Driver Profile - Dan Byrnes - #46 Rivercity Motorsports Modified driver
by Tom Stephenson
Dan Byrnes was missing from action at the track for a few years. He said, "I started at Laird a few years ago, I think 2002. I had a factory stock for a year, then moved into a late model for three years. I dropped out for a couple of years; I was running out of money, it's big dollars. The Modified is more affordable, quite a bit better."
Dan is doing really well this season, especially considering the equipment he is driving. With two race dates left in the season, he is running fourth in the points battle, behind Mav MacDonald Jr., Keenan Spurway, and Mike Scholz. Dan said, "A couple guys there have big dollar motors. I built my motor in my garage with junk from under my bench. There are a couple cars out there where there is $30,000 under the hood. The car I'm driving used to be mine, I had it for a few weeks a few years ago and sold it to Jamie Coccimiglio. He might have raced it once then got frustrated with it and it sat in his barn for four years. It's an older car, it's pretty well junk. Earlier this year I was trying to make Varcoe a deal on one of the cars he had there, but it was kind of a big dollar thing, then I talked to Jamie and he made me a real smokin' deal so I went that route. Next year I'll be set up better. I don't know if I'll have a better car or not, but I'll have a real motor. The total I have into that car, including the motor may be $4,000 and I'm racing against guys that have $40,000 into their cars. If they are beating me by three car lengths, I'm not complaining. If they can pass me in 10 or 15 laps then good for them." Dan did manage to carry the checkered flag this season.
Stock Cars were not Dan's first foray into racing. He said, "I used to race motocross all the time. I started when I was about 5 years old; I raced all over Ontario. Then I broke both my legs motocross racing and gave it up when I was about 17. Then I started getting into the cars. I used to help Rob Sartini and George Wilson in the pits." Dan is 27 now and enjoys the sport.
In the pits, Dan is helped by a couple guys. He said, "Andrew Givens has been a whack of help to me. My brother Dilan also helps out. And there is Dusty Jackson." Dusty (Dustin) is a rookie stock four driver that was just 10 years old when he started racing this year. Dan said, "He's doing unreal, we are pretty happy with him. He got second in the heat race, but he had to pass about 5 cars so we are pretty proud." Also helping Dan out is Dustin's dad. Dan said, "I really want to thank Brett and Debbie Jackson, they've been helping me out quite a bit."
Dan has a girlfriend, Tianna Kudlac, that provides some moral support for his racing addiction. Dan also has two kids, William Robert, 5; and Gracey Mae, who is almost a year old. Dan said, "William, the 5 year old, has a bit of a handicap, he has cerebral palsy. I'm trying to get him out to the race track, it will probably be next year." Dan's parents, Terry and Bridget also come out to cheer Dan on.
As for sponsors, Dan said, "I would have been better off if I had started looking for sponsors a bit earlier in the season. I kind of got the car on a last minute deal, and a few things were going wrong." Despite the setback, Dan does have some good supporting sponsors including Lyons Timbr Mart. He said, "They are my biggest sponsor. I've also got KS Roofing and Siding, Jack Scrap, and Gino's Family Restaurant."
I asked Dan if he had any other hobbies. He said, "In the off season, I used to race snowmachines a little bit, I don't anymore, maybe this year. I raced mostly snowcross, but I'd like to try some oval racing."
Earlier this year track owner Donnie Varcoe hired on Gerry Liscumb Jr. as Manager of Race Operations. I asked Dan what he thought of the changes at Laird through this season. He said, "A lot of people are hard on Donnie, but half of these guys wouldn't be racing if it wasn't for him. If you call him on a Thursday and tell him you need a motor, or a spindle or something he'll do his best to help you and find it. I think having Gerry there will be good. Gerry is a good guy, he knows the management part of it. If Gerry is still there a year from now things will be going smoothly. He sticks up for himself and everyone else. I think he'll be real good for the track."