Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

On The Loud Pedal With Andy Ferris

Alright Andy, thanks for the interview! I thank you and the fans thank you!
 Andy: Hammerdown, thanks for thinking of me for the interview!! I enjoy reading your "Interrogations" and I'm sure everyone else does as well. I have a lot of respect for the fact that you "Interrogate" a lot of the people involved on the teams, rather than just the drivers.

Thanks Andy. The "behind the scenes" people should never be forgotten. The hard working crews in my opinion, will never receive enough press......

You've been at this for a while now...
I started racing when I was 19, figured it out to be 25 years this season. Started racing Stock Cars and Late Models, then moved to Sprints in 1987. Having more fun with the Sprint Cars. I moved to this area in 1978. Racing was primarily a drag where I came from, and my first visit to a dirt oval track made me think I could do better than those guys on a bad day. Well I was wrong, 25 years later and I'm still trying to do better than them!!

Was racing more fun back then, than it is now?
Andy: Hell I can't remember "back then". No, actually back then was different, you had to make most of your parts. It made it very hard to run every race and keep up with the car. I think I'm having more fun now. The Late Models were OK, but you spent a better part of the week with body work. They got tore up much more than the Sprint Cars do, you know rubbing fenders and stuff, well those needed to be fixed. On a Sprint Car any rubbing that goes on means someone is going out of the complex. Learned this real quick!

I've always looked at you as a guy that is always a contender when you hit the track...
Andy: Thanks, you must have missed the nights I hit everything including the outhouse.

No buddy, I was in the outhouse the night you hit it! That might explain why I'm a little off!!!!!!!!

For a car that doesn't have a bunch of sponsors on the car, you sure seem to finish up front on a consistent basis. It sure would be neat to see what you would be able to do with a big budget!
Andy: The sponsors that I have are really great, they give me good equipment. Matt from Matt & Glass race car bodies and Competition Equipment have been with me forever and take care of me in a big way. Oliver Whitaker and Frontier Fasteners make it possible as well. JB chassis builds a killer car, I can't thank any of them enough. All racers want a bigger budget including myself, but as long as I can race I will be happy.

One of the things I've always admired about you is that you're not afraid to move around on the track and try different lines....
Andy: I've watched a lot of good racers and they always look for a better line. Sometimes I'll try a line that don't really make sense at the time, but later in the race, you know if the car is going to work there going around lapped traffic.

You're extremely aggressive, but yet you don't tear up a bunch of equipment...
Andy: Most of the time I feel I need to be more aggressive, that's what it takes to win and I'm not winning. Tearing up equipment don't help either. Living in Mariposa makes it hard to get help during the week, mostly cow pokes up here. They ride by on their horses and scratch their heads wondering what that thing I'm working on is.

I bet that Sprint Car has acted like a bucking bronco from time to time!

How would you define your driving style?
Andy: Well I erased my first response. My wife walked by and read it over my shoulder and started laughing, I guess I'll just leave this one alone.

Jaye, you need to contact me and tell me what his first response was!

You've raced with the Rebel Cup Series for a very long time, why?
Andy: All of my help is based in the South area, and to run North makes it hard for them. I would love to run The Golden State Challenge or Civil War, but too many of their races are in the North area.

The Rebel Cup guys are a tough group....
Andy: Yes they are, I like running with most of them. When we get the chance to race elsewhere we always seem to blend in well and run competitively.

I mean you really have to be up in the saddle night after night battling with guys like Tim Worth, Ronnie Day, Ricci Faria, Garrett Ishii, Lawrence Edlund and the rest of the Rebel Cup gang....
Andy: Especially at Hanford. It's usually a high momentum place, you get a little out shape and those guys are gone!

You finished 2nd to Tim Worth in the 2003 points race, but you only raced 17 out of the 18 races that year.....
Andy: We had a crankshaft break in the primary motor. Then a couple weeks later our spare let go and ended up missing a race. I would have liked to have had a shot at the title but that's racing.

Last year brought you a 6th place points finish. But the stats are somewhat deceiving. In the 15 nights ran, you racked up 6 fast times, and 4 of those were in consecutive weeks!
Andy: Up until last year I had never been known as a good qualifier. I stumbled with this for a while, and realized that I was running the right line. My laps were always consistent with each other, but the times were slow. I've always built my own motors and decided to do something different. Beginning of last year I also hooked up with Jim Mooney who seemed pretty sharp with the fuel system, so with the new motor and Jim dialing the fuel in, we came out with an awesome combination.

You also racked up 12 top 10's, with 6 of those finishes in the top 5. Your average main event finish was 7th. In your opinion what do you think contributes to your consistency?
Andy: Preparation has a lot to do with it. I see so many guys go out and have their cars fall apart from just stupid stuff. Dan Winninger and his daughter Sam do a great job, whatever gets done I always feel they did it right. They have been with me for a long time and I can't remember the last time something fell off the car.

Last years Rebel Cup/Civil War Series meet at Calistoga brought some highs and lows. The day started out great. You timed in 3rd quick out of 42 cars, then things took a turn for the worse...
Andy: Bad subject, next------ No you're right. It started out great until the heat race. Prior to my heat, several other drivers were complaining about the setting sun in their eyes. I figured I would wear my sunglasses, well that was a mistake, my glasses were fogging up, I didn't see the flagman throw the white. When I took the checkered, I couldn't tell what he was waving around and assumed it was the white. Well going down the backstretch I was still racing into the setting sun, blind as a bat and ran over the guys pulling off the track. Needless to say it broke up just about everything you could think of.

In your opinion, what changes would you like to see happen that could really help our sport?
Andy: I hate to complain about something I have no experience with, but it seems the promoters could promote a little better and work together to not have conflicting dates. I think it would improve the car counts. Some of them try to pack as many classes into the pits as possible, maybe to make sure they make the purse, but then they run over on time. Most complaints I hear from the fans is how late the races run. I think most would just prefer watching whatever class they wanted to see and get home at a decent hour.

What are the pros and cons of being a car owner?
Andy: I had the opportunity to drive for someone else for a couple seasons and I loved it for the same reasons I hated it. One I didn't have to work on the car during the week, that was great, but I never had that comfortable feeling that everything was right. I really liked not having to foot the bill, but I always thought the money wasn't being spent wisely. The biggest downfall of being an owner driver on a budget, you have the tendency to be too conservative.

As a car owner , where do you see where costs can be cut, but still be able to field a competitive Sprint Car?
Andy: This ones easy, ASCS rules. The way it is now if your not in the head of the month club your outdated. You can spend five grand for a set of heads, and before you get it together someone has something better. ASCS heads have stayed the same for years and the engines live longer.

You always seem to treat the fans with respect...
Andy: The fans deserve respect.

Yes we do, thank you....

There are a lot of young fast shoes coming up, has anyone in particular caught your eye?
Andy: Man, there seems to be so many that impress me right now. I guess if I had to pick one, I would narrow it down by taking out the 2nd, 3rd or more generation drivers. Being a first generation driver and being impressive would be rare.

If you could win one race in California besides the Gold Cup or Trophy Cup which one would it be?
Andy: I guess it would have to be the Calistoga Civil War/Rebel Cup race since I got so tore up there last year.

Any final words my friend?
Andy: Yes, my wife Jaye, she's great. 100% involved, from the weekly maintenance, coordinating everything at the track, keeping the officials in line, she makes it easy for me to concentrate on what I need to do.

Thanks a bunch Andy, we really appreciate it, and of course we wish you a safe and prosperous 2005 season...
Andy: Thank you Hammerdown!!

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