Basham to the rescue...and back in the saddle?... a DBR update

Basham to the rescue...and back in the saddle?... a DBR update

TOLEDO, Ohio (June 30, 2017) -- Let's just go with the last name over the door…because sooner or later someone else other than Mike Basham is going to climb back inside ole number 34 and give it a ride. That someone else would be his 68-year-young father Darrell Basham. And if things stay on track, that day could come sooner, rather than later.

Darrell Basham candid"I have every intention of running Salem," said Darrell Basham. "If we don't run out of race cars, tear 'em up or unless something freakish happens…I'm totally cleared by the doctors to do anything. Doctor says I can do anything I want…just don't pick nothin' up."

Yeah right. Tell that to the same guy who was hunched over the 34 car for three-and-a-half hours at Madison to repair the right-side of the motor just in time to get the car out for driver intros…without any practice laps. The engine not only held together for the entire race, the wheelman Mike Basham was fast, finishing 14th.

"When I put this motor together (Basham is one of those old-school guys who still assembles his own engines) I left some of the plugs out of the intake runner. That created a vacuum and it sucked oil into the motor. I was preoccupied when I was working on this motor."

We totally get the "preoccupied" thing. For more than two years, Basham has been fighting colon cancer, and being the great prize fighter he is, all signs point toward he's licked it altogether. After several surgeries to remove the mass…patch, poke, prod and re-plum the fan-favorite from southern Indiana, Basham wants, more than anything, to do what he's been doing since the late 60s…drive that race car. He was diagnosed in January 2016, and hasn't driven since September of '15…coming up on two years. However, he has been going to all the ARCA races again, and it's a good thing he was there at Madison last Friday, or the car would have gone back in the hauler without turning a lap.

"Car barely did a lap…smoked and Mike pulled it right back in the pits. When he came back in I was pretty sure what I had done. So I disassembled the motor on the passenger side…sure enough."

It wasn't just an on-the-spot rebuild, it was a trip to the local NAPA store for pieces and parts.

"We found a plug that fit the threads…took a grinder to it and made it fit. Put some o-rings in it from the good ole NAPA dealer, stopped the leak and patched her up."

Just as the announcer was starting pre-race, leading to driver intros, here come ole number 34…out onto the track and into position for the race, just in the nick of time.Mike Basham race action Madison 2017

"Mike did a fine job driving it…car was pretty fast. I told him if he doesn't run it hard, I'll fire him and I'll drive it. Listen...he can do two things real good…sleep and drive a race car."

It's doubtful Basham would be firing his own son, but driving it at Salem is looking more and more like a bona-fide reality.

"We'll probably take two cars but I don't really know. Mike would be glad to step out for his old man at Salem, but we'll see…depends on what we've got left inventory-wise. Either way, we intend to run the 34 at every race for the rest of the season."

Basham's motor-building skills weren't the only reason the 34 ran well at Madison.

"The Kimmels have been helping us for years. One reason the car was so good at Madison, it went to Kimmel's shop…Will worked on it…got it to coil-bind. Donnie (Richeson) with KSR helps us all the time with tires. There's a lot of really fine people in ARCA."

Basham's enormous drive to get back in the seat is something he says he just can't shake.

"I just never got over driving a race car. It's the predominant thing in my brain…it's what I think about 90 percent of the time. I like trying to get everything I can out of it. I can't get everything out of it anymore but I love trying."Mike and Darrell Basham post with 34 car

In the meantime, it's back aboard the semi-truck to earn a living. On this day, Darrell and his wife Sandy were headed with a load of electrical supplies to Front Royal, Virginia. It's a good sign…he's back to work (and has been for more than a year), back to the grind and on the road again. To keep up with it all, Basham says he doesn't spend a lot of time against a pillow.

"When I was racing all the time. I'd average about four hours, bout half what's normal. If you took all the hours I haven't slept, I feel confident I'm well over a hundred years old. I'll get three or four hours of sleep a night…go for a few days, get rundown, add another couple hours sleep and I'm good to go. You'd think an old man at my age with all that practice would figure out how to sleep."

Sleep or no sleep Basham understands as much or more than anyone just how fortunate he is.

"Been really blessed with the doctors. I go back every three months for my check-ups. I had the best surgeon in this part of the country working on me. I actually think I'm going to be okay, but you never know. If I wouldn't have had the surgery when I did I wouldn't be alive today, so I'm happy right now…no matter what happens, I'm happy.

"And I'm getting better all the time…getting handsomer too."

Don Radebaugh
dradebaugh@arcaracing.com

Comments
J.Larry Neal

I really enjoyed this article. I wish nothing but the absolute best to Sandy and Darrell and the entire Basham family. Be fast and be safe.

David DeFord

Let's see, in the bottom picture Mike's huggin' on Darrell and Sandy's working.  Isn't that supposed to be the other way around?

Tommy P.

Great story! Great family! Really enjoy being in the garage with the Bashams. Plus their spotter keeps the wind off of me in the spotter stand.

bashamsbetterhalf

Great article Don.