Three cheers for 34...three drivers, maybe more for '17
Three cheers for 34...three drivers, maybe more for '17
TOLEDO, Ohio (Jan. 27, 2017) - Darrell Basham has been through a lot over the last several years. Despite the challenges - and there were many - the Henryville, Ind. fan-favorite persevered and is now pushing forward with a new plan for 2017.
According to Basham, you'll see the 34 car everywhere on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards tour this year, starting with the 54th Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona Int'l Speedway Feb. 18.
"We definitely have a plan going," said Basham. "Originally, we had planned to go to Daytona and put Mike (Basham) in the car. He didn't get to run Daytona or Talladega last year...still finished 10th (in points). I wanted Mike to run the entire season...he did so well last year. He's a good racer and he doesn't screw up a lot. But, I decided it would be in everybody's best interest to let Willie (Mullins) do Daytona and Talladega, and probably the road course...maybe even a short track. We'll work with Willie on all that. He's just a great guy and excellent to work with."
And when Mullins isn't in the car, and that's most of the schedule, it'll be the father-son duo of Darrell and Mike Basham behind the wheel everywhere else. For the father, who turns a young 68 on St. Patrick's Day, climbing through the window could prove to be the very best therapy.
"I'm going to be healthy enough to race. They just did a scan a couple weeks ago and the doctor said everything looks beautiful...didn't see anything. Be a shame for a handsome guy like me to die prematurely.
"We're in the process of getting another car together for Mike, and I'm going to run some myself. I still have one more operation to get myself put back together. We'll do that right after Daytona...be about six weeks before I can do anything. But the doctor said, 'As good as you're doing, maybe you can go back a little sooner.'
"You'll see the 34 everywhere, and I think we're going to have Jason (Basham/pictured in car below) run a second car in a few places...so at some point, you'll see two cars at the track."
Basham, whose life-changing experience brings the world into a different light, is also planning to squeeze in a trip out west for his father-in-law.
"We definitely want to take a trip or two. Sandy's dad has macular degeneration, and he's never been out west, and he wants to go, so we'd like to take him."
And of course, Basham knows he's got to get back on the road with his 18-wheeler to make a living.
"I'm going to have to work all I can...I haven't been able to work a lot."
Basham's also looking for another ARCA car to outfit for the season ahead.
"We just bought the yellow car...Mike and I went in on that. It ran three or four races last year. We have the white car we ran everywhere else, and another car we could probably whip into shape. I'd say we have three usable cars. We'll be okay as long as we don't get in a real wrecking streak. Motors are a problem because I haven't been working a lot.
"Never had much money, and what money I had, I had to dip in a little. Not complaining...we've always found a way to make it.
"We're going to run the 34 at all 20 shows with Mike as the main driver...probably wait till we get a second car together before I race. Maybe I'll get released in time to run Salem...love to run Nashville...haven't run there in years. But we'll probably have Mike run Nashville. I'd like to do Pocono. You go so fast down the straightaway, then at the other end, it's like a short track. It's the coolest track. Really like to run Toledo. Maybe Kentucky...that's right here at the house."
Basham says he's still weak from the radiation, surgeries and chemotherapy.
"I'm a little weak at the moment. But I know I can muscle myself back up...get back in shape and be ready to rip."
Despite his ongoing situation, he also says he hasn't lost a bit of desire for the sport he fell in love with so many decades ago.
"It's funny...I still have the desire to drive these old cars. I really do. I still love it...even the way I do it, on my own dime and equipment. You'd think I'd out-grow it but the desire's still there. I'm not dumb enough to think I can run as hard as I did, but I know I can still do it...just keep the tires on it...that's my plan. We're going to race, and run as hard as we can."
Basham, like a lot of the ARCA crews, will take advantage of the available students from the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH), the Official High Performance Training University of ARCA.
"We got a couple UNOH school kids (Cody Johnson and Matt McLane) to help, and Daniel Disinger...he also went to UNOH...he'll be helping all year too."
As always, Basham's right-hand woman, wife and ace in the hole, Sandy Basham, will continue to spot and serve as a key crew member at the shop and at the track. Basham's brother Ed Basham is also planning to help as much as possible.
In addition to all her duties with the team, Sandy also beats the trails in search of marketing partners and sponsorship.
"Working hard on sponsor stuff," said Sandy. "We'll see where that goes. It was so funny...when Darrell got the good news from his doctor, he cut a little "jig" out to the car. We needed a little good news."
NOTES: In addition to Basham's health scare, lest we forget...his home raceshop/garage burned to the ground in the same year a killer tornado wiped out his raceshop in downtown Henryville. Basham lost several race cars, tools and tons of accessories in both incidents. What the illness, the fire and the tornado didn't take was Basham's spirit, one of the most vibrant in the ARCA community.