Talkin ENDURO: A Conversation with Chuck Mercer

The second Enduro of the 2013 racing season goes green at 7PM Saturday night at Speedway 660. It’s the only night race of the four race Enduro season. Wade Wilson recently caught up with Chuck Mercer, who won the 2012 Enduro championship, sharing the driving duties with his cousin Clifford. The Mercer boys also won the first Enduro race of this season.

Wade: First off congratulations on winning the Enduro championship last year. It took quite an effort the wrestle that title away from Woodstock’s Pat Sharpe who won it three years in a row before you guys took it in 2012.

Chuck: Thank you. Yes, previously my brother Randy Mercer and cousin Clifford had raced in the Enduro racing back 10-15 years ago and off and on since. It’s taken a long time to get the car to drive well on the track. It’s been a group effort. Unfortunately my brother Randy decided to stop racing. Until recent years we haven’t been as competitive as we needed to be to beat Pat. But we were pretty pleased to win it all last year.

The Mercer’s celebrate winning the ENDURO championship during the 2012 SpeedWeekend. They ended the three year reign of Pat Sharpe.

Wade: You had a great start to this season, winning the first event, but your car got banged up pretty good in the process. You had a lot of work to do to get ready for this Saturday night’s race.

Chuck: Yes we had a great start to the season, but the car did suffer some sever damage. Since they have added the hundred dollar spin bonus, our car and many others have been incurring some serious damage. We have been working hard at trying to get it back to some sense of order before this weekend’s race. We’ll see what happens, but one thing is for sure, it definitely won’t be in the same shape it was for the first race..

Wade: We get good crowds for Enduro races. Those fans like to see cars spin out and sometimes flip over. But I am not sure most of us realize the amount of work it takes to build one of these cars and repair them after an Enduro.

Chuck: I will admit, it is fun to watch, but I think some of the drivers are starting to take it to the extreme. You can spin a car without all the damage that is being done to them. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to prepare these cars to race, and the parts are getting harder to find too.

Wade: There’s a fine line between Enduro racing and an out-and-out demo derby. Enduro is short for Endurance and 200 laps certainly puts a strain on driver and car.

Chuck: You are correct there. Enduro is an endurance race. It is a race to see who can be the first car to finish 200 laps. A Demo Derby is designed to go out there are demolish and wreck your opponent’s car. A little bit of beating and banging is fun for the fans to watch in the Enduro’s and fun for us drivers too. We just don’t like total destruction.

Wade: Do you think the strong teams like Pat Sharpe and you guys are targets out on the track?

Chuck: Yes we are targets. Pat has a great car and has won the Enduro championship three or four times. We also had a pretty good car and there are a few other good cars out there too. I guess it is normal for people to target the top cars because everybody would like to end up in the Riverview Ford Lincoln Victory Lane. That’s just how Enduro racin goes I guess.

Chuck and Clifford Mercer won the June 30th ENDURO race at Speedway 660, but their car suffered some serious damage. The Mercers have been working hard to make the car race ready for this Saturday night.

Wade: You guys share the driving, while some other Enduro teams just have one driver. How do you feel about splitting the duties behind the wheel?

Chuck: We both like to drive and a flip of a coin decides who drives what segments on a particular night. It’s actually good to be able to get out of the car after the first segment and take a break. Its hard work out there. It’s tough enough going around the track as fast as you can and even tougher to try to avoid the wrecks and other drivers who might be trying to take you out.

Wade: We now use electronic scoring in the Enduro races. Since we put the transponders in the cars we can monitor lap times and you guys are fast. You are less than a second off the times run by the DMR Auto Sales & Service Street Stock drivers. And it looks like you’ve got a good combination of power and handling.

Chuck: We have worked hard on getting our car to where it has been over the last few racing seasons. We are quite happy with how it handles and thanks to our friend Chester, out of Saint John, the engine runs quite well. It will be interesting to see how fast we are this week, after the car went through the wringer a couple or three weeks ago.

Wade: Car count has been a bit of an issue in the Enduro division. Those old rear-wheel drive cars are getting hard to come by. Do you think we will get to the point where we have to go to the smaller front-wheel drive cars?

Chuck: Yes I think that eventually it will get to that place. These rear wheel drive cars are getting hard to come by. These cars are bigger and heavier than the four cylinders and I think they are tougher too. I am not sure what kind of show you would see with a field of four cylinders, but we are likely going to find out someday.

Wade: You guys come up from the Sussex and Norton area and you have a lot of your friends and family at the track when you race. Who helps you with the car in the garage at home and in the pits at Speedway 660?

Chuck: At home, Cliff is the main mechanic. I also work on the car and we get some great help from Rick, Ronnie, Ed, John, Randy, Doug, Derek, Jerome, Anthony and a few other guys. On race day, a lot of these guys make the trip to Speedway 660 to help us out in the pits.

Wade: And in terms of sponsors, is there anyone you would like to thank?

Chuck: We get great support from Dunbar Construction, City Auto, Sussex Tire and AJW Mechanical.

Wade: Good luck this weekend and have fun racing under the lights at Speedway 660.

Chuck: Thanks Wade! We are looking forward to racing under the lights. Hopefully all the work we’ve done to straighten out the car will pay off and of course we’ll need some luck on our side. It sure would be nice to get another win!!

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