Purcell gains valuable experience in Las Vegas | NevadaAppeal.com

Purcell gains valuable experience in Las Vegas

Rhonda Costa

With more than 200 entries at the Duel in the Desert IMCA modified show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1/2-mile dirt track over the weekend, young Tom Purcell of Carson City gained a world of knowledge and confirmed his love of dirt-track racing.

“We had a great time at Las Vegas and it was a great experience running with the best modified drivers from across the country,” said the 17-year-old Purcell said.

After racing in one of 20 qualifying heats Thursday, Purcell began in the eighth spot and finished fifth, placing him in one of the B qualifying events on Friday. Only the winner of each heat transferred to the next A qualifying race. During the 20th heat race Thursday, an accident involving several cars damaged cyclone fencing and the cement retaining wall of the track, taking more than three hours to repair. The A-qualifier was then the only event raced and none of Thursday’s scheduled B qualifiers were held.

Drivers drew for heat race position Friday; Purcell ran in the fifth heat and transferred to one of 10 B races held that day. Starting 20th, Purcell had advanced as far as 10th, but finished in the 13th spot.

“I was going hard into turn 1-2 when the guy in front of me checked up and I lost three positions,” Purcell said. “With only the winner of each heat transferring to that day’s main event, everyone else accumulated points for position.”

With last-chance qualifiers held Saturday, Purcell ” going through regular pre-race maintenance with his crew ” noticed debris in the oil filter when it was removed for inspection.

“My weekend ended short when we found the debris,” Purcell said. “It was bearing


“But it was fun, the most fun weekend I’ve had racing. I’ve read about a lot of these drivers from the Midwest and then to meet and race against them was great. One racer I talked with, David Murray Jr. (Oberlin, Kan.), who has like 400 career wins, ended up winning the feature Saturday.”

Purcell had a backup engine with him in Las Vegas, but considering his horsepower against that of the other top drivers, the decision was made not to run it.

“The track was real sticky in the morning and the engine would have gotten the car around the track OK, but not enough to run with the big boys,” Purcell said.

Purcell gives much credit to Robert Miller of Minden, whom he bought the racecar from.

“He’s the original driver of this car and won nine out of 10 main events with it,” Purcell said. “He helped us with the setup, gears, everything. I also want to thank Keith and Scott Sulprizio of United Engine (Carson City).

“We run their racing pistons ” KB Performance Pistons ” in the car; Les Schwab Tire Center, Capital City Auto Parts, Performance Muffler, all of Carson City, and Champion Tool Company in Farmington Hills, Mich.

I’m looking forward to racing next year.”

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