Michael Beard is one of the most decorated and talented footbrake racers in the country. After a rough two year span, Michael came out swinging in 2019. He was almost unstoppable over the summer. Learn more about Michael’s awesome season in his season recap below.
Success in not Guaranteed
A history of success is no guarantee of future results. More than two decades into a storied career that includes three IHRA World Championships and numerous Division championships, track championships, and big money bracket titles, that all came grinding to a halt in 2017 for Galloway, Ohio’s Michael Beard. For two years, Beard was plagued with a lengthy series of mechanical issues that wore on him both mentally and financially.
“It was one thing after another, and usually unrelated,” Beard recalled. “I pulled the transmission, and found a brake line leaking; change a converter and find the MAP sensor for the fuel injection system had gone bad. It was almost comical after awhile. Eventually, I ran out of money, and as long as the driver was broke, the car was going to remain broke.”
A Strong Start in 2019
With a boost from sponsors and a series of successful winter practice tree races, which kept the driver sharp and refilled the coffers, the Loose Rocker Volare finally returned to the track in May of 2019. In the first three completed weekends of racing, Beard scored two wins, a runner-up, and two semifinals between Kil-Kare Raceway, Dragway 42, and the IHRA Sportsman Spectacular at Keystone Raceway Park. Beard then swapped out the 4.56 gear in favor of 5.13’s.
“Everyone said, ‘You’re winning. Why would you change anything?’ It was definitely a great start to the season, but I could see room for improvement. I think I was leaving a couple of hundredths on the table,” explained Beard. “As it turned out, the gear didn’t get me what I was looking for on the starting line, but it does get me into high gear sooner, which has given me more room to judge the finish line. After that, I changed up my program completely and switched to Deep Staging. It took a couple of weeks to get homed in on it, but once I did, the results have been just incredible.”
From July 12 to August 17, Beard made it to the finals every week that he raced. He scored back to back $5K runner-ups at Quaker City Motorsports Park, a win and a semi at Dragway 42, a $7K runner-up at the Jim Harrington Bracket Nationals at Cecil County Raceway, and then punctuated the string with back-to-back runner-ups in the $5K and $10K main events at Quaker City’s second Big Buck Nationals before winning the $5K 64-Car Shootout. To round out August, Beard won the Dash for Cash and recorded a No-Box semifinal finish at the Working Man’s 10 Grands at Wagler Motorsports Park.
FBOMB to the Rescue
“I haven’t only made changes to the car and to my driving style throughout the year,” offered Beard. “I’m no fitness model, but I’m trying to be smarter about how I eat on race day. A lot of racers are bad about eating junk on race day, or worse, not eating at all. FBOMB snacks have really filled that need and kept me going. When you get in the late rounds, you don’t have time to sit down for a meal… and that’s happened a lot this year. FBOMB’s pork sticks, macadamia nut butters, and cheese crisps are all great ways to get the energy you need to get through the day. Folks stop by my pit to try samples. Some of them are like me, people who just appreciate good snacks, but a lot of them are dieters who are specifically interested in FBOMB because they’re KETO-friendly, gluten free, and have no artificial flavors.”
Despite only attending six out of ten points races, Beard finished 5th in points at Dragway 42 to qualify for the IHRA Div. 3 Summit Team Finals. It is the first year that Beard has run local track points since winning the 2009 IHRA Div. 2 Summit Team Finals. There, he managed a semifinal appearance in the gamblers race. Samples of FBOMB snacks were a big hit at the event, reaching an audience made up of representatives from nine tracks across four states.
Single versus Double
Another change Beard made in 2019 was the number of entries purchased at each event.
“Except for the World Footbrake Challenge and the No-Box Bonanza, I hadn’t double-entered all year,” he added. “With over 400 entries at each of those events, double-entering did not feel any different than having a single entry at a smaller event.”
Beard’s efforts paid off one last time for the season, wading through 10 rounds at the No-Box Bonanza to reach the finals of the Friday $7,500 event.
“It cut my expenses substantially, and despite the popular line of thought that double-entering doubles your chances, these eleven final rounds have made this one of my more rewarding seasons of my career financially – and ten of those were on a single entry. It’s been a really fun year, with a great mix of local racing and big money racing on the road,” said Beard. “I have some big changes in store for next season. Just like before, I know people are going to ask ‘Why would you change anything?’ but I’m looking forward to it, and I think it’ll make me more competitive in the long run.”
Words by Michael Beard.
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