Shook, Seitz put together championship team

| Friday, June 3, 2011

Rob Shook and Bill Seitz were done with racing, but they had long ago been infected with the "racing bug." The two have teamed up as owner and driver, and now it looks like they have a championship-contending team.

"I had left for four years and came back last year, and was helping Paul Schreckengost and his crew," Shook said. "And I was also going to the track with Chris Schneider. I drove Paul's car for two weeks and had a sixth and an eighth. It was fun."

That fun is key for Shook and Seitz, and it's a reason that Shook has returned and run well. Shook has one victory; one second and one sixth-place finish in 2011, and he currently leads Corey McPherson by four points, 98-94, in the championship race.

"I was going to get out of it," Seitz said. "We sold the car and I was going to be done. Jason (Fosnaught) ran for me last year, and he ran well. We got rid of that car and built this one. Rob came on board and helped me with Jason's car and I asked him at the end of the year if he wanted to build a car and come drive for me. It was easy to ask because Jason was going to the Late Models."

One of the reasons that Shook got out of racing for a few years was the stress associated with being both owner and driver, where everything falls on one person.

"It was stressful because I owned the car and did the work too," Shook said. "Working with Chris (Schneider) was fun because it was just us working on cars. We tried different things to see if they would work. I have to say that Chris is one of the smartest guys I know when it comes to these things. Now, he even does things for the Late Models."

Schneider is one of the most respected Sportsman Stock builders in Western Pennsylvania and Shook, by working with him, has rejuvenated his desire to get back in the game.

"When I first went away, I tried to not do anything at all with racing," Shook said. "For two or three years, I totally ignored it. When I stopped, I sold everything. I figured that was the best way to get out of it. I had some health problems at the time and I just thought I needed to get away, but you know, they say bad habits are hard to break."

Shook, a machinist for C.E. Holden Inc. in Cheswick, did not just happen to run into Seitz at the track. The two go way back to when Shook graduated from Deer Lakes High School and Seitz hired him at Glenshaw Glass. They have remained friends ever since.

For Shook, one of the biggest issues was just how much work he would have to do on the car. As both owner and driver everything falls on one man, but with this situation, it frees Shook to concentrate more on the car and driving.

"I wasn't really even thinking about getting into a car again," Shook said. "I really wanted to make sure I knew what would be involved. But it did catch my interest when Bill mentioned it and we worked things out. It's both easier and more enjoyable this way. Time constraints are different for all of us, but it works out well. I maintain the engine and basically do the chassis."

Shook also has raced at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, and enjoyed it in this new car. The team is planning on hitting races at Marion Center and Sportsman's.

"This is one of Chris (Schneider's) chassis," Shook said. "It's basically his car if you look at it. But we also have different driving styles. Back when I first started racing, I didn't have the greatest car and I used to run the bottom of the track. This car seems to be able to go where I need it to go anywhere. I tend to be a bit of a conservative driver, and that's not such a bad thing because it helps preserve the car."

So while Shook does not have the pressure associated with being an owner-driver, there are expectations that come from "management," i.e. Seitz.

"To finish fifth, or better, in the points is what we are after this season," Seitz said. "We've gotten one feature win already and hopefully we can make that two. Getting into victory lane is such a great feeling. Last year, when we got there with Jason, it was probably the best feeling because it was the first time for my car. I raced back in the 1970s, in a Late Model, against Bob Wearing and those guys so I know how hard it can be."

Shook, while confident, is a little more reserved in his expectations for the season.

"I think I need to get more consistent," Shook said. "Mom videos the races and I look at them and see just what it is I did right, or wrong. I just want to have a consistent season. I would like to finish well in the points at Lernerville and keep the car clean and run good clean races."

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