Tim Schafer, the ARCA Truck Series’ New “Iron Man”!

Longevity. Most seek it in their chosen, lifelong professions. It certainly looks better on a resume and it certainly sounds better in interviews – like in sports — being able to explain why you have been doing something a “long” time, for the most part, can only be a plus! In the ARCA Truck Series, presented by the Phoenix Management Group, two-time champion Bill Withers could boast the longest active streak, never having missed a race since the very first one at Flat Rock Speedway in May of 1999! However, with Withers skipping the last three of the 2010 season, there is a new “king” of the streak, and that would be 32-year-old Canfield, Ohio resident Tim Schafer.

Driving a #22 Chevy that resembles the old NASCAR Cup Series star Ward Burton’s #22 yellow and black entries, Schafer, with some backing from his wife Angela’s G’s Pizza World, his dad’s Double S Construction and bairdbrothers.com, has since his first green, claimed a fifth place at Flat Rock last May and 16 Top Ten’s in 43 straight green flags! And the team, which is owned by his dad Ray, hasn’t missed even the bound-to-happen assorted rain-outs and cancellations either!

Okay, there have been others who have missed some events, even while leading the points over the years, but you haven’t been absent since your debut at Indiana’s Anderson Speedway on April 21st, 2007 where you finished 16th! How has that happened?

“We’ve always traveled, even when I was a kid — we were always going someone place! And, we always loved to go to the Truck races and we always made it a priority to go, and I just can’t imagine not going! We love this series! When I first came here, I kind of wanted a place where the rules were applied equally and fairly, it was more professional, and I could perhaps get noticed. Well, I’ll be 33 March 13th, so I’ve kind of given up on the idea of someone maybe giving me a ride in a bigger series, but really, it wouldn’t break my heart at all to race here the rest of my life! It’s a good group of guys, they’re always willing to help you and it’s a great series and I think it’s only going to get better! And, I don’t think Tom Cumbow (ARCA Truck Series/Phoenix Management Group General Manager) likes to give up on anything easily!”

Schafer, who is foreman at Baird Brothers Saw Mill, where they make assorted wood products, said his hobby is racing. “I guess I really don’t do anything else! I do little things, tinkering around I guess. I’ve got a three-wheeler in the garage I’m trying to get going, mess around in the garage a little bit. And, we go racing!” He and the family also went to Bristol for years for the NASCAR Cup race (but last year didn’t attend because prices got too high), where Tim became a fan of the older Burton for his personality, and because, “he’s a pure country boy, into taking care of his equipment, and, he didn’t win a lot, but he was always there near the end. And, I also admire him for wanting to take care of wildlife. And I’ll tell you, when Sterling Marlin got out of his car during that red flag near the end of  the 2002 Daytona 500 and got penalized for it and it put Ward into the lead, I was just hollering! I couldn’t believe it! I’ll never forget it!” Hence, where he got the inspiration for his distinctive paint scheme, after Burton’s!

Starting in a subcompact/front wheel drive division about eight years ago around Canfield, Schafer and his dad put together a pick-up truck, “a little S-10 off the street” as he would explain, and then after a year of that, came to the ARCA Truck Series.

“My dad thought I could do it,” said Schafer, who has two sisters and when asked, admitted that since he’s the only boy that perhaps he gets all the racing equipment! “My dad is a Vietnam veteran, belongs to the local VFW, and is the kind of guy who would do anything for you. We put the camper on the back of the truck and camp at the race track! That’s our vacations! My sister Misty and her husband Vince come along when they can and she videos the races for YouTube and the internet. Without my family and my dad, there’s no way I could do this and I owe them so much.

“As a matter of fact, my dad is going in for shoulder surgery in a couple of weeks – he’s been doing physical therapy after tearing his rotator cuff but it didn’t seem to be working, so he went in and the doctor saw him and my dad lifted his arm over his head and the doctor said my dad was only the second person he ever saw who could lift his arm over his head with a torn rotator cuff! It’s probably from all the muscles he’s built up over the years from his construction company.”

As Schafer talked about his streak and years in the series, he also offered up a bit of sad irony. “It’s funny, because I don’t think I’ll be able to run this year. My wife owns her pizzeria and the building she was leasing , the owner apparently didn’t pay the mortgage and the building was lost. So this year, it looks like we’ll have to get her going again – she’s the priority right now because we’re in the pizzeria business and we need a place to run our business. Plus, my dad and his surgery – the doctor said his arm will be in a sling for two months and that’s it! It stays there and doesn’t move and it has to stay that way or it won’t heal right. Plus, we’re looking for funds. Baird Brothers, where I work, has always given me something every year, but I still need more funds to keep going and maybe even get some better equipment, but right now, for 2011, it doesn’t look good.

“Still, I haven’t won yet and I want to do that! We’ve had good runs, but just had some terrible circumstances! Like at Mid-Ohio last year, I was second fastest and missed being fastest by a couple hundredths of a second! And during the race, I blew a hole in my header pipe, got a flat tire, and then when we came home and unloaded and were looking at things, we saw the distributor cap bolts both came undone and it was just sitting there floating!”, laughed Schafer. “Just goes to show you the kind of year we had! Then at the dirt track, I missed the pole by six-one hundreds of a second but led 20 some laps but just couldn’t win it! And look at Lorain County – on the initial start, guy in front of me missed a shift and I ran right into the back of him and broke the radiator and didn’t even make a lap! I guess if there was a year to sit out, it probably could’ve been last year!”

Still, no matter what, Schafer has nothing but love for the series he has been associated with for so long! “I try to do my part; I have a Facebook page called ‘Tim Schafer Racing’, and would update it on the way to the race track and after the races.”

No matter what, Tim Schafer, we’ll still keep watching the ARCA Truck Series new “Iron Man”!

For more information, please contact Kevin Schwarze at: kschwarze@arcatruckracing.com

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