Paul Lee is reveling in his opportunity to learn the ropes for the second time behind the wheel of a car owned by one of the sport’s most iconic veterans.
Lee is driving the last two races of the season for seasoned veteran Gary Densham after having most recently driven for Jim Dunn.
“It’s like a fun day at the races … sort of like a match race out in the middle of nowhere,” said Lee, who is promoting his McCleod Clutches company this weekend. “This is about having fun, but also this is very serious. They do a great job and this team runs well. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun and it’s only Friday.”
Lee and Densham qualified No. 14 for Sunday’s final eliminations in their first outing.
Lee, even though he’s having a tremendous amount of fun, understands how tough the experience is for Densham in watching and not driving.
“I know it’s hard on him because there is no one out here with the experience Gary has,” said Lee. “I’m just glad to be driving for him. He’s been doing this forever and there’s no way this is easy for him. There are times I feel guilty about driving because I know he’s a way better driver than I am. I just feel fortunate Gary and Joanne provided the opportunity for me to drive a couple of races.”
How is Densham actually handling his weekend outside of the cockpit?
“Horrible … just horrible,” Densham said, jokingly. “Paul has done a great job and he’s a great driver. It’s going to work out just fine. It’s hard.”
Make no mistake about it, Densham is still very attached to driving.
“The thrill of driving has been something I’ve been lucky enough to experience for over 40 years,” Densham admitted. “When you’re outside of the cockpit, you realize then just how much you miss it.”
Densham understands the potential is there for a healthy income as a crew chief for some of the better funded teams. Added value, he believes, would come in bringing along a talented crew to supplement his tuning abilities.
“I love working with the team and with [crew chief] Greg [Amaral] and hopefully over the years I have been able to offer a bit of input,” Densham explained. “Working on the car is fun and being around my team is fun as well. I’m convinced my crew is the best in drag racing. They do a phenomenal job for the resources we have available. They are also my best friends.
“You also couldn’t get a better team. They are all dedicated and when I could no longer run full-time, they had offers to go elsewhere for more money than I could pay, and none of them did.”
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