Feature Article, Stock Cars — April 5, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Eric Angeledes (Issue 108)


By Steve Heeb

Eric Angeledes remembers watching his father-in-law Richard Gadbery competing in Spanaway Speedway’s Compacts division during the 1990 season.

“One night he told me I would be driving the car,” Eric laughs. “It wasn’t until about three months later when he asked if that was alright.”

Eric’s previous racing experience to that point had been SCCA autocross competition at the Boeing Space Center in Kent.

“When Eric and I first met, his brother raced in SCCA and we would go watch his races,” wife Lisa reflects. “He mentioned it was something he wanted to do so trying to be the good girlfriend, I asked him how much the cars cost and what the entrance fees were.”

She was taken back by the cost, and inquired about the winnings involved.

“His reply was: a checkered flag,” she laughs. “Instantly, I could total up how much that checkered flag cost. I went home and told my dad: You have to put him in your car.”

At that time the club was Compact Auto Racing, part of Spanaway Speedway’s Wednesday Night Fever program.

OCAR had established dollar limits for motors, heads and other equipment.

“It was affordable,” Eric says. “If you don’t wreck or blow your car up it doesn’t cost anything.”

That helped put Lisa’s mind at ease, but Eric had a way to go.

“For the first two years at Spanaway I was very nervous,” Eric recalls. “Autocross is long stretches of boredom with some excitement in the corners, but Spanaway was intense all the time.”

He credits his father Marv for his support early on.

“He got us through the start of it and fixed the car between races,” Eric says.

Both fathers were lending a hand, but it took a foot for Eric to fully appreciate their efforts.

“Eric has always liked to drive more than he liked to work on the car and as such would earn more than a few cuss words and thrown hats from both of our fathers,” she explains. “One time when Eric had the car looking particularly nice and was trying very hard not to be involved in any fender benders my dad couldn’t take it anymore. Eric pulled into the pits after the heat and my dad storms over and kicks the car putting a dent in it. Eric stood there looking horrified while my dad yelled: ‘There, it has a dent in it – now go out and race!’ ”

The group’s No. 5 Pinto was decked out in a red-white-blue scheme based on Bill Elliott’s Cup car.

Before long, Eric, Marv and Richard were fielding a Mustang purchased from Chuck Chambers.

“Then the tire rules changed,” Eric says of a shift in 1993. “We started traveling so we could keep using our Goodyears.”

As the group broke ties with Spanaway to race out on the peninsula, Port Angeles Speedway owner Reg Midgley didn’t want the group being called the Spanaway Minis while they were visiting his track.

“Reggie suggested we call ourselves something different when we raced up there,” Eric recalls. “Rick Coombs, a crew chief for one of our racers, came up with the name Outlaw Compacts and that name stuck.”

As an orphan group that didn’t have a home track, the club started going up to Port Angeles to race more often.

“I liked Port Angeles,” Eric laughs. “I could win there and I can’t win anywhere else.”

Eric’s biggest win came there during the 1996 season in a second Mustang race car.

“The 100-lap final at Port Angeles was the first race in the new Mustang I built,” he says. “That car was the easiest to drive.”

Although Eric continued to compete at Spanaway until it closed in 2003, the Compacts schedule already was expanding to include races at Ephrata, Yakima, Monroe and Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho.

Eric recalls one ill-fated return trip from the Idaho track in the early ’90s.

“The driveshaft came out of my father-in-law’s truck,” he says of the lengthy delay. “Then we got that fixed and later down the road the tire blew.”

Those kinds of travel mishaps do not reflect Eric’s experience at the track.

“I’m big on over-preparing beforehand,” he explains. “It’s too big a disappointment to miss a race. Especially after a haul to some place like Stateline. That’s one I look forward to.”

He also enjoys racing at the Oregon venues at Roseburg and Hermiston.

“That’s a nice facility and a fun track to drive,” he says. “The car is really good there.”

He’s even helped out at Pacific Raceways for SCCA events.

Sometimes the Compacts bolt on rain tires to compete in less-than-optimal weather conditions.

“I’m not a big fan of racing on a wet track with my rear-wheel drive,” he says. “The front-wheel drive cars do better in the rain.”

In 2008, Eric bought a third Mustang, this one a 1988 model with a Pacesetters chassis.

“I got it from Terry and Eric Kaas who built it, but it was just geared wrong for Evergreen,” Eric says. “It sat in the garage until I got it on the track in 2013.”

With a 2300-cc motor prepared by Bud’s Machine, the Mustang has become the fastest of Eric’s various racers.

Eric credits sponsorship from Gary Greenwoods Italian Auto Repair, East Chico Speedshop and the Garage Asylum, as well as his own business Signstop Northwest.

“And my wife Lisa who puts up with this racing,” he says of family involvement.

Lisa does recall one special Wednesday when the racing program had to yield to more pressing family matters.

“Of course our son chose a Wednesday to make an appearance,” she says of their child’s birth. “I believe it was the only time I told Eric he couldn’t go to a race.  I remember looking over and catching him looking at his watch while we were deciding whether I would require a C-section.  He catches me looking and says: ‘Well, how long do you think this will take?’ ”

She informed him he was not going racing that night.

“I’m sure I was very polite about it,” she laughs. “We ended up having Mac via C-section and he was at the races nine days later at Port Angeles.”

Now, 22 years later, Mac is right in the racing mix with Eric.

“Mac is my entire pit crew,” Eric says proudly. “He’ll be driving the old car we built.”

“I’m really looking forward to driving this upcoming season,” Mac says. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The role of driver will be different after years of turning wrenches.

“Racing has been a part of my family for as long as I can remember, but I’ve always been on the sidelines, in the pits, or in the stands,” Mac says. “It’s definitely a change of perspective when you’re the one being watched. That being said, my father is a great teacher and I’m looking forward to following his lead.”

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