SAMPEY TALKS ABOUT TEAM LIBERTY RETURNING TO ACTION AT VEGAS
The 2017 NHRA season has been a hectic one for the newly-formed Team Liberty Racing Pro Stock Motorcycle team of riders Cory Reed and Angelle Sampey, a three-time NHRA world champ (2000-2002).
Sampey and Reed each competed at the first 10 races of the season, and each qualified for every race. They are riding Victory Magnum motorcycles.
However, following the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis Sept. 4, Team Liberty decided to park its operation to regroup.
“The major reason we took time off was that we just didn’t have any more engines and that three-race back-to-back races were coming up and we knew we couldn’t make it, so instead of killing ourselves, we took some time off,” said Sampey, Team Liberty’s team manager. “We didn’t even start working on our shop and moving in until January and we moved into an empty warehouse (in Cordele, Ga.). Just getting the shop together was a huge task. We literally didn’t have tools. Ken (Johnson, the team’s co-crew chief) brought his tool box from home. That’s what he was working with, but he didn’t have half the stuff he needed. We put together a tool deal with Carlyle and we started getting things in slowly. Two weeks before Gainesville (Fla., March 16-19, the season-opening Pro Stock Motorcycle race) we had worked so hard to set up the shop that we barely had time to do anything with the bikes. We did go to Gainesville, and miraculously, because S&S did such a good job with these engines we dove into the season, but we started off so far behind and the rest of the season we were trying to catch up the whole time.”
Trying to catch up finally caught up with Team Liberty after Indy.
“We decided to calm down and take a step back,” Sampey said. “We do own our own team, if we don’t want to go to the next race. What we thought was more important was fixing the problems we were having and stay home. S&S did a great job on giving us some really good engines. I’m very proud of these engines, they are so awesome and so strong. Look how good Matt Smith is doing (with these engines) and we know we can do that as well. Now, that we have sat back and fixed the problems we were having, we feel confident going into Vegas. Our goal is to qualify in the top half and we would love to win a couple of rounds and show we took time off for a reason. This is where we would have liked to start the season off. Now we have several engines and we have an idea what we have and things we want to try. Our shop is beautiful. It’s huge and nice and they did a great job with it. We are finally caught up and we can start moving forward.”
Sampey said Team Liberty isn’t ready to commit to competing at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals (Nov. 9-12) in Pomona, Calif.
“We will make a decision about going to Pomona based on how we do in Vegas,” Sampey said. “If we go to Vegas and we do well, and we go a couple of rounds then H*ll yeah we will go over to Pomona and try it some more. If things don’t go the way we hope they will go then we are going to come back to the shop and start working for next year.”
Sampey acknowledged the final two races are going to be difficult for her because of issues she’s having with her feet.
“The doctor has told me I have Morton's neuroma,” Sampey said.
According to mayoclinic.org, Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton's neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.
Morton's neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.
“At first, I put it off for the longest time because I thought I was having an issue with my ankle because I injured my ankle (in an accident in the pits) in Indy (in 2014),” Sampey said. “It started in my left foot the worst and I thought I was having some kind of problem and I thought it was nerve damage from the injury. I went to the doctor and he said it had nothing to do with my ankle, it’s called Morton's neuroma. I went to the doctor again and I told him I can’t stand (the pain) anymore. On (Nov. 1), I’m having surgery on my left foot and then I will have surgery on my right foot after Pomona.”
Regardless how this season ends for Team Liberty it will be ready to go in 2018 with the Victory Magnum motorcycles.
“We (Cory and I) will be out there hoping to be a thorn in everybody’s side,” Sampey said. “We have a wonderful team. Our team works together so well, it’s hard to believe. This team jells together so well, it’s almost like we went on some kind of match.com to put the team together. We are so happy. We’re just a brand-new team, with brand-new engines that we need to learn. We are going to continue with the same package (they had in 2017) in 2018,” Sampey said. “We like the challenge.”