Classified ad leads to racing team | NevadaAppeal.com

Classified ad leads to racing team

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dan Grode, right, and Tom Haxall, talk about sprint car racing at Grode's Carson City home. Grode has spent 40 years as a car owner and race car driver. Grode and Haxall have been racing together for the last three years. Their next race is at Placerville Speedway, Placerville, Calif. on Saturday.
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Carson City resident Dan Grode has been racing since 1964 when he took to the high-bank track of Tahoe-Carson Speedway, known back then as T-CAR.

Grode drove stock cars and supermodifieds – an open-wheel, winged racecar with lots of horsepower and lots of thrills for drivers and fans alike.

Over the years, Grode, 70, has gone from racer to car owner yet his passion for racing has not diminished.

“I do this because the thrill is still there,” Grode said from his garage, where he parks his sprint car when it is not being hurled around a dirt track.

Three years ago, while reading Racing Wheels magazine, Grode saw an ad for a driver looking for a ride in an open-wheel car. Enter Tom Haxall.

Haxall moved from Pennsylvania to Incline Village in 2002 to help his mother take care of his father, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Haxall is a ski lift mechanic.

With a long racing history himself at Silver Springs Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Penn., Haxall was hoping the cross-country move would get the “racing bug” out of his system. It didn’t.

“I started in 1975 helping race teams,” Haxall, 51, said. “I started as a mud scraper and graduated to tire groover. As they trusted me more, I got to do more.”

Grode gave Haxall a call and they discussed racing. They have decided to only run dirt tracks like Placerville and Quincy in California, and Reno-Fernley.

The car has a 1996 Bob Trostele chassis – possibly one of the last built – and runs a 360 cubic-inch motor with about 700 horsepower.

“This chassis makes the car a good ride,” Haxall said. “It’s very predictable.”

Haxall credits his quick reflexes in driving to his love of skiing.

“It (skiing) keeps your reflexes real quick. In these cars, everything happens so fast you have to be ready.”

Grode runs the number 72 on his car in remembrance to his father, Fred, who died in 1972. His sponsors include Sign Design, Auto Marine Machine and Silver City Auto Body.

“We can always use more sponsors,” Grode said. “These cars ain’t cheap to run.”

Potential sponsors can reach Grode at 882-2658.

“This is nothing but fun for me,” Haxall said of racing.

“This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I guess I’m just an adrenaline junky, but there’s nothing better.”

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.