Feature Article, Stock Cars, Washington — July 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Tim Minister (issue 97)

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97-tim-minister-evergreen-late-models

 

By Steve Heeb

Long before Tim Minister of Eatonville, Wash., began turning laps in a Super Late Model at Evergreen Speedway, he already had made multiple laps across the country.

“I was in a military family so we moved all over the place,” he says of his childhood while his father Bob Minister served in the US Navy. “He was stationed at California, Idaho, Virginia, Idaho, Virginia and then Washington.”

He still recalls how his mother Linda June Davis would scout out the towns in the states where Bob and the young family were due to be stationed.

Tim has fond memories of going to Evergreen Speedway as a young race fan after the family made the move to Washington.

“When I was a kid I used to sit in the grandstands and wait for the crashes so I could go in the pits and gather up parts,” he laughs.

In 1993, Tim moved to the other side of the fence to experience racing from the driver’s seat.

“I raced Bombers at Spanaway Speedway when I was 15,” he says.

He would race in the Mini Stocks division before moving to Illinois, where he raced in a local Modifieds division.

“I came back to Washington and ran Modifieds and Hornets at Grays Harbor,” he says. “Anything I could get my hands on.”

He also will race wherever he can, as demonstrated by a wild Saturday in 2009, that started with his No. 8 Modified in the pits at Grays Harbor Raceway.

“I was at Elma at 10 a.m.,” Tim explains of the rainy morning. “They called the race after an hour.”

“We loaded the rig and drove to St. Helens track and discovered that was rained out too,” Michelle says of making the 100-mile haul south to River City Speedway.

Scrambling for somewhere to race, Tim and Michelle called Willamette Speedway that was more than 100 miles farther south in Lebanon, Ore. By incredible luck, the track was running its annual Strawberry Festival 200-lap race that night.

“I registered by phone on the way there,” Michelle says of keeping their cool with the track still more than two hours away.

“We got to Lebanon with just enough time to unload the car and get my driver’s suit on,” Tim says of arriving a few minutes before 5 p.m.

But making it to the race was only the first part of the adventure.

“On the way back we lost a tire on the trailer so we pulled over to change it,” Michelle says of being on the highway shoulder late that night (in the early hours of the morning?). “A sleeping driver almost took us all out.”

The dozing driver actually ran over Tim’s feet as the out of control car drifted dangerously close to the family as it passed by.

“Tim still has the tire marks on his racing shoes – they are his lucky shoes,” she says of the memento from the incident that was mere inches from being a real tragedy. “He says they are the ones his dad bought.”

That spirit and drive are still with Tim and Michelle as he now races in the Super Late Model ranks at Evergreen Speedway.

“Tim has the competitiveness,” Chris Peterson says. “He lives racing. He’d rather do racing than anything. Tim uses my shop and he works on my muscle cars. I help him with his passion and he helps me with mine.”

“Tim definitely is determined,” wife Michelle says of her husband’s racing. “He puts his heart and soul, time and money into it.”

Tim says he got some good advice was from Barney Wagner, of Arrow Lumber.

“He said to race for the sport and not for the money,” Tim explains. “It has made racing more fun.”

“Barney is a great mentor,” Chris adds. “If you’re stuck on something he’ll talk you through it and give you the best advice he can.”

Like his dirt Modified car before, Tim’s Late Model sports the No. 08. The ’06 Impala has a 438-cid smallblock Chevy with 6-inch exhaust installed.

“I work on semi trucks for Arrow Lumber and I got the exhaust from the truck,” Tim laughs.

“He gets the whole family into it,” Michelle says of their five children: Christian, 17; twins Brandon and Chase, 14; Hanna, 10; and Arizona, 9. She also includes Chris and Yulanda’s four-year-old daughter Ashley. “The kids all help on the car. They are mechanics in the making.”

“Everyone has helped put this car together,” Tim says of the involvement of family and friends.

He even runs under the team name of MOM Racing, in reference to his mother helping get the chassis for his Late Model car.

“We’re skimping,” Tim says of the low-budget operation.

“It’s a Cinderella story every year,” Michelle adds. “Last year in Yakima the distributor wire melted, so I took a section of shop light cord and spliced it in so he could run.”

Some situations aren’t so easy to fix.

Tim recalls blowing up an engine they had built for the Modifieds Nationals at Grays Harbor Raceway.

“When you burst into flames and there is fire all around you, you go stupid,” he says of the fiery incident.

Tim strongly urges drivers to spend more time practicing getting in and out of the car. A well-rehearsed procedure can make all the difference during such a chaotic situation.

“I watched him blow up, catch fire and hit the wall at 120,” Michelle says of another fiery wreck after Tim’s throttle stuck during a race at South Sound Speedway. “After he hit the wall he got leery of the speed, but he’s over that now.”

“His biggest improvement has come from getting over the jitters from that wreck,” Chris adds.

When he crashes, he actually looks forward to it,” Michelle says of her husband’s all-to-frequent wrecks. “It’s terrifying for the rest of us.”

“I’ve seen some bad wrecks,” Tim acknowledges. “It is good to have the safety crews there. I have been fortunate and always come out OK.”

It must be the lucky shoes.

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