Sports

Local team is sprinting toward auto racing’s big time

"It isn’t surprising that Randy Dubois turned out to be such a great race car driver. He’s had years and years of practice.“I’ve been driving cars most of my life,” says the 39-year-old Poulsbo resident and Kitsap-based contractor and entrepreneur. “I started when I was a kid with go-karts and motorcycles.”“It takes a pretty special guy to get into one of these (sprint cars),” said Dubois’ old friend Terry Purbaugh of the little cars with the big “wings” suspended above the chassis to add stability. “There’s a lot of power in those little cars, and they can be a wild ride.”Those wings, said Terry Purbaugh, do a lot more than just deliver the advertising messages of the cars’ sponsors.“Those things create a lot of downforce, which is real necessary for a car that weighs what it weighs (about 1,475 pounds) and is as powerful as it is (650 horsepower).”In the last couple of years, Dubois has graduated from go-karts and bikes to the sprint and formula racers, driving sprint (or “outlaw”) cars owned by Bremerton brothers Mike and Terry Purbaugh. Last year, he drove in three different championship series in races all up and down the West Coast.In 1999, if you used the phrase “Rookie of the Year” in Kitsap County, Dubois’ ears probably would’ve perked up. He earned that honor in both the Northwest Star Mazda series — driving his own car — and Northwest Sprint Racing Association regional sprint car series — behind the wheel of a car owned by Harold Purbaugh and his two sons.“We were in 26 races last year,” Dubois said of his busy competitive schedule. “We hold the absolute track record on just about every track we raced on. We raced a fast car last year, and we’ll have a faster one this year.”Dubois, a former classmate of the Purbaugh brothers at West Bremerton High School, finished seventh in the sprint car points standings in their first year, third in points for the Oregon region, and third in the Mazda Star series.He said he was particularly pleased by the showing of the sprint car.“For us to finish in the top 10 in our first year is quite a large accomplishment,” he said.Terry Purbaugh met Dubois when the two were racing motorcycles and attending classes at West Bremerton. Terry and older brother Mike had been involved in sprint car races most of their lives, and had gone out on their own in 1997 after a three-year relationship with Poulsbo sprint racer Denny Stark.“We grew up racing sprint cars,” Terry said. “Mike and I traveled all over the country racing cars owned by (Bremerton auto dealer) Aaron Capps.”Dubois, who had been to the motorcycle World Championships in Holland in 1993, jumped at the chance to move into new forms of competition, and his friendship with the brothers expanded into a partnership. He quickly got over his inexperience with sprint cars (“He’d never seen a race, except on TV,” Terry said) and translated his competitiveness and ability into immediate success for the Purbaugh Brothers Racing team.The Purbaughs will have a new car when the 2000 season opens in March, one built specially for the pavement tracks they’re planning on racing. Last year’s car was a dirt-track racer. Terry said he thinks Dubois will concentrate on it, and the sprint series, this year.“That would be a lot to do,” he said of maintaining a presence on the Mazda Star circuit. “I know this will keep us pretty busy.“A lot of really good racers have come out of this circuit,” Purbaugh said of the NSRA series. He tacked off a half dozen names, including Spokaneite Tom Sneva, who went on to fame and glory on the Indy Car circuit.“This could be a launch pad for Randy into that sort of thing, if he wanted it to be,” Purbaugh said. “Whether it is or not, we’re all having a lot of fun with it.”"

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