The picture is a favorite of Ann and Ron Crosby’s.


The picture is a favorite of Ann and Ron Crosby’s.

Two Chevy trucks are in focus against a blurred background. Speed lines are awash over the white race wall and black asphalt at Chicagoland Speedway, as the Superseal No. 73 makes the pass underneath the No. 3 truck.

The underdog No. 73 finished eighth that day, its highlight captured in glossy glory. The No. 73 is owned by the Crosbys, the No. 3 by Richard Childress Racing.

That August night in 2010, a small Ardmore racing team bested the New York Yankees of motorsports.

 The Crosbys are hoping there’s more of that to come.

Lifelong Ardmoreites Ann and Ron are the owners of County Building Center as well part-owners of Tagsby Racing, a NASCAR Camping World truck series collaboration with North Texas trucking and concrete mogul Joey Sonntag. Ron, an avid racing fan since childhood and Sonntag joined forces in 2001. That was until the September 11 terrorist attacks signaled a downturn in the economy that forced the partnership out of the truck series for eight years.

In 2009, Tagsby Racing rose again, and remains afloat with the help of several Ardmoreites.

“It’s been kind of a community effort,” Ron said of the numerous Ardmore residents who help the team out with anything ranging from body work and decals to paint and regular mechanic work. “We’ve come a long ways in a short time.”

In NASCAR, money from sponsors can equate to more race opportunities and the quality of automobile a team is able to put on the track. Because of limited sponsorship, Tagsby has had to race a part-time schedule since its return to the truck series. Its ultimate goal is to be able to run a full season.

Without the financial clout and sponsorship dollars of a major racing team like Richard Childress or Rouch Fenway, Tagsby has assembled its group of local volunteers, in addition to a full-time crew chief stationed in the epicenter of the racing world — Charlotte, N.C.

Thirty-year-old crew chief Travis Sharpe, a native of Martinsville, Va., joined the Tagsby team about a year ago through a mutual friend. He’s overseen preparation for the team’s last five races.

“It’s a fight for sponsorship, but it’s been good so far,” Sharp said.

“We’ve done really well with the budget we’ve had.”

With such a small pool of funds, it’s imperative that Tagsby does its best to keep all of its six trucks as unscathed as possible. Upon returning to the series after its eight-year hiatus, the team wanted experienced drivers that would give them not only the best chance to win, but less worry about trucks getting destroyed.

“Eighty percent of the time you can do body repair, but wrecking a truck kills us,” team manager Jimmy Wright said. “We try to stick with veteran drivers. (He) knows if we wreck one we might not be able to go race. He understands and appreciates the equipment.”

Tagsby’s current driver is possibly the best man for the job. Rick Crawford, 50, is a legend, a third-generation racer who’s been behind the wheel for more truck starts than anyone in Camping World series history.

In his first of three races with Tagsby last season, Crawford drove the No. 73 truck to its best-ever result — the Chicagoland finish memorialized in the Crosbys’ photo.

“We’re trying to get the program where we’re more competitive and challenging for wins,” Crawford said. “There aren’t many big-time racing teams based in Oklahoma. Most race teams are in North Carolina.

“At the same time, racing is a little bit different. There is such a thing as working hard, but you’ve gotta work smart. They’ve got guys working smart.”

That “smart” work is coming from people you might live next to or do business with. Jody Duvak, owner of Duvak Collision, painted the trucks for the team, and Monty Boatright of Galaxy Signs created the decals.

The newest addition to the volunteer crew, mechanic Steve Ott, says he never thought he’d see a NASCAR team out of Ardmore in his lifetime.

“It’s funny,” he said. “If Ardmore knew if the team existed, they’d probably embrace it quite a bit. People are willing to jump on board and help however they can.”

The Crosbys, along with Wright, Sharpe and Sonntag, are currently in Daytona Beach, Fla., in preparation for Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250, the first event in what Tagsby Racing hopes will be a successful season. The competition will be tight, as 56 trucks are trying to qualify today for 36 spots.

The Friday truck series race is followed by the Nationwide Series’ DRIVE4COPD 300 on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series’ biggest race of the year — the Daytona 500 — on Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled for the black Superseal No. 73.

That’s Ardmore’s truck, a true community cruiser.

“It’s unbelievable what they do with what we have,” Ann said.

Erik K. Horne
221-6522

————

NASCAR Camping World truck series NextEra Energy Resources 250

At Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday, 6:30 p.m.

TV: Practice at 11 a.m. today (SPEED); pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. today (SPEED); race, 6:30 p.m. Friday (SPEED)