2015 Season Wrap Up
As the Beetles once said, “It’s a long and winding road” That has never been more true for Lance Tatro this year, or over his entire racing career. The 2015 season finished September 19th at the Harvest Classic with a shortened field, but nevertheless, Tatro held par winning his 5th main event of the year and wrapped up the CSS inaugural championship title. Along with the Harvest Classic, Tatro also won the Pombo/Sergent Classic, the Vukovich Classic, the Gerhardt Classic and the Pacific Challenge. Some of the strongest competition for Tatro throughout the year came from pre-season favorite AJ Russell and Lance Jackson. While the field also included rookies Austin Carter, and Justin Tuey, along with veterans Carl Johnson and Larry Hinz.
The goal for CSS this year was to kick off a new series that would allow the former 360 supermiodified class more versatility. The idea was weight vs power, meaning the more assumed power, the more carried weight. According to Tatro, “We found a great balance of both, no doubt. Early in the season, when the track was freshly sealed and didn’t have the grip, I had a huge traction advantage with slightly less power running the 4bbl Carburetor.” However, as the season went on and the track gained grip, Tatro felt their advantage faded to the injected cars, but obviously not completely.
One of the unique aspects of Tatro as a driver, is he also builds and designs race cars, has an engineering background, and even sets up his own car. In fact, Tatro and his crew do almost everything on their racecar, including custom painting, machining, and all the fabrication, so essentially there is very little outsourcing. Early in Tatro’s career, he worked for Jim Belfiore building supermodifieds, and later for Jim Thorpe at Lightning Chassis building sprint cars. After that he was a Design Engineer for Simson Vineyards where he designed and built cutting edge harvesters and finished his career there by building a custom multimillion dollar 80’ luxury yacht from top to bottom. Now Tatro spends his time in the classroom helping inspire students in the manufacturing and engineering fields, both full time at Central High School in Fresno, and part time at Fresno City College.
Tatro believes his background in fabrication, and engineering gives him a huge advantage over a lot of other competitors. Combine this, with a driver who has close to 300 supermodified main events and over 100 features in other classes and there is a wealth of knowledge to pull from. “I am rarely the favorite coming in, and that is okay. I have had some great years, and some rocky years for sure. Those rocky years were when I didn’t know that much about handling and how much that was important. During those times, I was only as fast as my tires would allow me to be. I also started to realize my driving reputation was in the hands of the one who was setting up my car.”
That notion was proven when Mike Swanson, and later Grant Costa, joined the team and was in charge of setup. With those two setting the car up, Tatro wielded two supermodified championships in two attempts. Different from before, Tatro focused on learning everything he could about chassis setup. “I’m not claiming to be anything special as a set up person, but I know things that set up guys, or drivers alone may not know. Meaning, there is no loss of translation between me and anyone, so I just get it”… “And when I need feedback, I have several other engineering minds, like Jackson, Jon Stauton and Jerimiah Bearden around me to help me to see what I can’t, confirm what I feel, or tell me I am pointed in the wrong direction. In addition, I am very open to other’s feedback.” Although Tatro by name may not always enter as the favorite, on paper it is not hard to see why he is a winner.
In finishing, Tatro Racing Team owners Christine and Lance would like to say thank you to their race crew Kevin Tatro, Jason Tatro, Chloe Tatro, Aubrey Tatro, and Greg Bellew for all their hard work at the track and helping make the season a winning one. Lance Jackson and Left Turn Motor Sports for maintaining the motor and keeping the power plant a happy one. Jason Wedehase Photography for all the great personal shots, Carl Johnson Farming and Jon Stauton for his help with our motor tuning and set up. Ken Coventry for continuing to be my anchor and substitute father at the track… “God bless you sir!” We also want to extend our thanks out to Jerimiah Bearden for his thankless work as Director of CSS for putting together a great class. Lastly, To Kenny Shephard for taking a chance on a new class and giving the CSS Supermodifieds a place to showcase their drivers.
Below: Count Down to the finally
A Jason Wedehase Photo