DYSON GETS DIRTY
ounds like a plum gig. No politics. No
sponsors. Just a day at the track with a
two-time American Le Mans Series
champion who’s going to be driving far
outside his comfort zone. On a hot
Monday in mid-July, Chris Dyson is going
to be trying something new to him, yet
steeped in American racing tradition.
He’s driving a sprint car.
Instead of 650-plus horsepower being
sent to sticky, slick tires and forced to the
pavement by acres of downforce-creating
bodywork (that would be his regular ride,
the Dyson Racing Lola B12/66-Mazda
LMP1 car), Dyson’s going to be in a
utilitarian, no-frills machine that purposely
struggles to translate its 650 horses into
traction on the loose, muddy surface.
The sprint car’s tires are treaded, but
they’re not the knobbly or studded sort
that would provide the grip ’n’ go you’d
ideally want for driving on the loose. And
downforce? That comes only in the form
of gravity… and there’s not much of that
on a car that weighs around 1,450lbs.
So, the opportunity to watch and
record a talented and proven racer who’s
voluntarily becoming a rookie again in a
super-quick and super-tricky racecar…
Sounds like a visual treat. Count me in!
Arriving at Ventura County Fairgrounds,
I cruise past signs for Hobbies, Collections,
Gems & Minerals, Amateur Art and
something called Uncle Leo’s Farm. Large
block lettering on the sign states, “The
Senior Open Sheep and Dairy Goat
entries are now closed.” (Darn it.)
But my destination is Cory Kruseman’s
Sprint Car school. To describe Kruseman as
an expert is to put it mildly. try non-winged
World Champion, two-time Chili Bowl champ,
Western States Dirt Track champ, two-time
USAC Indiana Sprint Week champ, and so on.
As Chris says, “Cory’s one of the foremost
open-wheel guys in the country and his
career reads like a Hall of Fame CV.”
Chris Dyson is curious to try different forms of racing –
very different – and so he headed to sprint car school.
BACK TO BASICS
Di Zinno’s photos are a work of art
(as usual), so how did he do it?
“In a way, I wanted to get back to
basics, too,” he says, “so I used an
iPhone 5 for stills, as well as the
Canon 7D for motion, a Tokina
10-16mm zoom and a Canon
l Video of the day can be found
on RACER.com. Check it out.
“Cory didn’t tell me too much be-
fore I first went out. He just wanted
me to get over the ‘shock value…’”
Kruseman gives carte blanche on
photographer access, which is as much
music to my ears as the sound of the
car’s warbling 360 cu.in. V8 linked to an
in-out gearbox. Much more relevantly,
though, he’s totally amenable to his pupils
– including those, such as Chris, who are
taking their first slippery steps on dirt.
And now the time has come. The gas
is poured in the tank. The pick-up truck
push-starts the car into rumbling life, and
Chris engages himself smartly and gently,
with the discipline of a pro who knows
he’s got to play himself in.
“Cory’s very tolerant of the novices
who show up,” confirms Dyson, “so that
helps encourage us along. But he didn’t
tell me too much before I first went out; he
just wanted me to sort of get over the
‘shock value’ of driving one of these cars.
WORDS & PICTURES Tony DiZinno
Nothing beats the fun of
controlling a car that wants
to oversteer at every corner.
Chris Dyson is a rational and
sane racer, but even he had to
admit the sprint car experience
was “quite addictive.”