After seven years, Howie Brode decided it was time to get a new car. So Brode, who won the last two NASCAR modified championships at Riverhead Raceway, spent the winter building one.
"I've had [the other] car since 2007 and it had a lot of racing on it," Brode, 51, of East Islip, said. "It was a really good car . . . I usually turn them over every five to eight years. I get a new cage and body. I switched a lot of the stuff off the old car into the new car, like the brakes, but it's a relatively new car."
Brode, who owns Beaver's Towing in Bay Shore, will begin his run at a Riverhead three-peat Saturday night. A title this season would be his fourth. He won his first in 1998.
Despite his recent dominance, Brode said there's no pressure to win a third in a row.
"I love to drive race cars," he said. "It's fun for me. I just have as much fun as I can and hope this ride doesn't end."
And he believes that the new, updated car can lead him to another championship.
"I got the chassis from Troyer [Race Cars], and then we put everything else in it, like the brake lines, fuel lines, all the electric, ignition, steering and paint," Brode said. "It looks almost like an IndyCar. But we have a roof. The driver cockpit isn't wide open . . . It looks more like a Sprint Cup car. It's a NASCAR, but it's open-wheeled."
Brode said the car ran "really well" at the first practice of the season April 18. The car is almost identical to the one that won him the last two championships. In fact, he will keep the championship-winning one in his garage and use it as a backup. That option is something that can't be overlooked. Brode said he likes to have two cars available at all times, and after selling his backup a few years ago and never replacing it, he has that option again.
"I don't want to jinx myself," he said, "but the last two years, we've finished every lap of every race. I just want to keep that consistency going."
And that quest begins Saturday night.
"I'm looking to go out there and win opening night," Brode said. "We've been cooped up in the garage and we're ready to go."
Saturday: 5:30 p.m. NASCAR Modified Twin 30s, Late Models, Figure Eights, Charger, Blunderbusts Super Pro Trucks, Legend Race Cars
Sunday 12:30 p.m. Grand Enduro, Truck Enduro, 8-Cylinder Enduro, 4/6-Cylinder Enduro