Meet V. Gaines:
The man with the cigar, real priorities and a whole lot more
On a stroll through the pro stock pits, the transporters are adorned with everything from carnivorous fish to the names of auto manufacturers and mail-order giants. One of the most intricate and colorful trailer-wraps features fantastic flying saucers, friendly aliens and a smiling Martian with a half-chewed stogie sticking out of his mouth. On closer inspection of the pit, the inspiration for the caricature is easily found.
Between rounds on any given race day, V. Gaines (V
is short for Veiri), can be found working on his car, usually with an
un-lit cigar between his teeth and a smile on his face. Although he helps
his crew chief Clyde West and crew Matt Wagner and Duane Radcliff work on
the car, Gaines is always ready to pose for photos and sign hero cards.
"My main business is that I'm a beer distributor -- Miller, Miller Light, Sam Adams, Heineken. We're involved in some other businesses, too," Gaines explains. "We have a Long-haul truck company -- another good-sized truck company, we make some rods, we make some crank shafts, we have a great graphics company - Fineline. They do a lot of graphics out here and do a great job. Those are all fun things - day jobs - and what let us come to the races.
"We sell a crate engine that a lot of super
comp and super stock guys use. A basic engine runs from about $12,000 to
$25,000. We've got a lot of motors out there - especially on the west
"It always seemed like when we got the cars
done, we ended up at the drag strip to try them out. And then, the boys
were all gone, so I said, 'You know, I think this is kinda fun.' So, we
started out with a Super Gas car, and moved into a Super Comp car, and
that wasn't fast enough, so we moved to Comp Eliminator, and that was fun.
Then we moved to Pro Stock," he said.
"Last year, we started out with Chevy and had great expectations. We tested well in the winter, tested fast in the winter. The first half of last season was very dismal for us. We didn't qualify; in fact we didn't run well at all. It kinda seemed like no matter what we did it was tough.
"Mid season we talked to Larry Morgan to see
if they had room in their engine program, and they said 'if you get a car,
we'll supply the motors,' so we got a brand new Dodge Stratus out of
Atlanta and went to work.
"This year we're looking to start where we
left off. We were qualifying well at the end of last year, and we raced
well on Sunday. We're getting some things figured out, and we really
expected to pick up right where we left off in Pomona.
Questions have been voiced about the timing of Gaines getting this sponsor on his car and Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion Frank Manzo no longer being the flagship for the oil company. Gaines is quick to explain the situation:
"One of the reasons we're able to continue
racing is because Kendall is helping us out. We're very fortunate to have
a business that supports our racing -our day job. We work that pretty
hard. And we also work this really hard and put in long hours. Kendall has
really been fun to work with. They're very supportive. Great oil. I run
their oil in all my trucks. I have a fleet of about 1000 trucks, so it's
very good oil," he said.
© Competitionplus 2005