Pat Doar to Challenge for 2011 WoO Late Model Rookie of the Year
by Chris McWilliams on March 18, 2011
Pat Doar #11 in Action (Image Credit: Pat Doar's Facebook Page)
When last month’s DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH began, Pat Doar was thinking about submitting an application for Rookie of the Year status on the 2011 World of Outlaws Late Model Series. By the time he left Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park, however, the veteran driver from New Richmond, Wis., hadn’t merely been approved as a rookie contender. He was talking openly about the prospect of an exciting season on the road and looking like a favorite to capture the national tour’s top-newcomer honor.
The 47-year-old Doar has spent nearly two decades primarily racing dirt Late Models under the more restrictive rules package of the Upper Midwest’s WISSOTA circuit. He now feels the time is right to expand his horizons into the full-fender division’s open-competition realm with an assault on the WoO LMS. Doar is excited about his season saying, “The old people say, ‘Don’t have any regrets.’ That’s basically why I’m considering (chasing the Rookie of the Year award). You sit at home and think, Those guys (touring dirt Late Model stars) are the best and it would be great to run with them, so why not try do it before it’s too late? My mom always used to say, ‘You gotta have fun. Do what you want while you can.’”
Doar is one of four drivers listed as a 2011 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year contender, joining Ron Davies, 53, of Warren, Pennsylvania; John Lobb, 41, of Frewsburg, New York; and Brian Reese, 29, of Sharpsburg, Georgia. These rookies along with the tour’s star-studded roster of regulars will end a month-long break from action with the $20,000 to win “Cash Cow 100” on March 18-19 at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway. Following last month’s pair of season-opening WoO LMS events at Volusia, Doar holds the early edge in the battle for the rookie crown, which will be determined using drivers’ 30 best finishes on this year’s series. Doar was only able to qualify for two 50 lap A-Mains where he only managed a 20th place finish on Feb. 17th and a 28th on Feb. 19th. He was the lone rookie hopeful to qualify for a feature and he turned heads the first night by setting fast time with a sizzling track-record lap of 15.783 seconds around the half-mile oval.
The modest Doar was more than slightly surprised by his performance during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, which he entered for the first time since 2005. He spent the week trying to get his mind adjusted to the ultra-high caliber of the competition. “Back home I’m known as the guy who’s on the gas,” Doar said near the end of the six-night meet at Volusia. “Down here everybody’s on the gas. You just have to let it all hang out, every lap. I’m not even sure what the car’s doing down here because I’m going a bunch of miles an hour faster than what I’m used to. One time when I came in Jimmy (Mars) said, ‘How’s your car?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. It’s better. I think, because I kept up a little better this time.’” Doar admits that he’s out of his comfort zone when he goes full-blown dirt Late Model racing, a discipline he’s attempted only in short spurts since 1994. “A lot of years we didn’t even do any aluminum (open-competition engine) racing,” said Doar, whose bread-and-butter has always been the lower-horsepower, steel-block action of WISSOTA. He’s won the WISSOTA Late Model national championship twice (2000 and 2002) and the WISSOTA Late Model Challenge Series title five times, and he’s captured track crowns under WISSOTA-type rules at his hometown Cedar Lake Speedway (2000, ’05, ’06) and Superior (Wis.) Speedway (2005, ’06, ’10).
Pat Doar After His 2011 Wild West Shootout Victory (Image Credit: usaraceway.net)
Of course, while the vast majority of Doar’s 150-plus career dirt Late Model feature wins have come in his WISSOTA equipment, he has enjoyed some shining moments in open-competition shows. His first-ever victory with an aluminum engine, in fact, was an upset score in February 1996 at Volusia’s now-silent three-eighths-mile dirt oval (the facility’s current half-mile was paved at the time). He also captured a WDRL event in 2003 at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis., and owns feature wins in Arizona during the 2003 Early Thaw series (at Manzanita Speedway and Central Arizona Raceway) and this year’s Wild West Shootout (at USA Raceway in Tucson). Doar’s main obstacle to success in open-competition racing has always been that he simply doesn’t do enough of it. The only crown-jewel event he annually enters is, naturally, the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake, which is just six miles from his home, and his experiences in the big show demonstrate his predicament. “We’re usually one of the best cars with the little motor (at Cedar Lake), but when we put the big motor in there (for the USA Nationals) it’s always kind of a struggle for us,” said Doar, whose career-best finish in the event is 13th, in 1996. “We run there for three days with the big motor and by the time everybody’s done and driving out the pit gate (after the 100-lapper), I’m like, ‘We’re just starting to get the hang of this big-motor stuff.’”
Pat Doar #11 Puts it on the Cushion in Florida (Image Credit: G.T. Smith)
Doar plans to give himself an opportunity to develop an open-competition rhythm in 2011. His self-owned team is stocked with the most open-comp equipment he’s ever possessed. He has purchase two ‘MB2′ cars built for him by Jimmy and Chris Mars and two aluminum engines constructed by ProPower’s Bill Schlieper. He is also in a good place personally as he and his wife Nancy have no children and financially as the sale of his family’s business several years ago has boosted his racing efforts, so he’s ready to branch out. “I couldn’t really do any better in the equipment department right now,” said Doar, who largely races for a living but does spend some time as a truck driver during off-seasons. “Since we hooked up with Jimmy and Chris Mars my cars drive really good, and Bill Schlieper is great helping out with the motors. Four or five years ago I wouldn’t even consider doing this, but (Jimmy) Mars said to me, ‘You should do it.’ I guess we’ll see how it goes.”
Doar, whose moustache and lanky build have already earned him the nickname ‘Gunslinger’ from WoO LMS announcer Rick Eshelman, is looking forward to the thrill of racing with the country’s best drivers. “When the Outlaws came up through the Dakotas and near us the last couple years we ran the shows and it was a lot of fun,” said Doar, who followed the WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour’ in 2009 and 2010, scoring a career-best series finish of ninth last year at Superior Speedway. “I’m out there racing about as hard as I can race, and it’s like I’m not even going anywhere, jeez! But we’re all adrenalin junkies, so after you run a heat race chasing guys like Josh (Richards), (Tim) McCreadie and Jimmy (Mars), you get out of the car and you’re vibrating. Back home I don’t get that vibration no more because the motors don’t go that fast so you get accustomed to ‘em, but these aluminum motors…man, they’re fast, and it’s exciting to race ‘em. When we get a long way from home I’m like a fish out of water. I get around O.K. at the house, but it’s different out east. It’s gonna be a learning experience for me, but I’m hoping to learn and get better and consistently run top-10.” Doar looks to be on his way to a successful rookie campaign after a strong start in Florida.