Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

With Northern California Masher Herman Klein  

Thanks for allowing me to interview you my friend! 
HK: I didn't know that people actually knew I was around at times. 

Well, the season has concluded. Are you ready for your break?  
HK: Not really, when you have some great people to race for, and you end the year with a good win, you want to keep on going! 

I mean, running with the dudes you run with, I would think you would be about due. Their are some really stout dudes up North... 
HK: There are some tough guys you run with, it makes it a long season, but when you start getting good runs you can go forever. 

How long have you been racing?  
HK: I've been driving since '91. 

What's your relation to Hash Brown? He was one of my favorites when I was a kid!
HK: He is my Father but, you can't hold that against me! Seriously, he's a great dad and he's the reason I'm driving race cars and love doing what I'm doing. 

I alluded to the season being over, but looking back, you seemed to be fast right out of the box.....  
HK: It's hard when you start the season out strong, and start falling out of points. You want to chase in the middle and then start ending the year with a string of top 5's. You just know deep down that if you can figure out the middle that you could win some Championships and some big shows.

You finished 8th in the final tally in the super tough Sprint Car Civil War Series. I think that is great, but I know a driver always wishes for more. In your opinion, what could you have done differently to attain a higher finish?  
HK: Placerville! It's one of those places I wish I could finish better at. We didn't make a show 'till the last one and that is a place where you've gotta be good to have the whole package.

Harley Van Dyke seems to give you a good car. It looks fast to me when you're in it anyway. You drive the hell out of it! 
HK: Driving for Harley has been a small adjustment. Having the best car and the best engines just makes it so all I have to do is stand on the gas!No doubt you do that!!!!!!!!!

You also drove for Matt Fontaine this year..... 
HK: Oh, that guy! Just another friend. It just so happens that he asked me to help him out since he is learning to drive. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. It's something that he has been putting together for a while, there are lots of people that have helped and have given parts to make this thing work. His girlfriend helps out a ton and is always at the races with the cars. I honestly think that she owns the thing, that's the person I usually see writing the checks! 

You say lots of people do you mean sponsors or just people?  
HK: Well, basically everyone. There are so many people. When Troy Hennig was asking me about it, I forgot some of them because of all the help. I mean, the fuel pump was one that Dave Bradway Jr. used so it also has some parts on it that mean something to people. 

Just you mentioning Jr's name is an honor, and it also means the world to me.....!!!!!  

With sponsors so hard to get and every one digging to get more, do you want to thank anyone associated with the 40x of Matt's
HK: Well, actually most of the sponsors are race teams that Matt has known for years. But to name a few and honestly, their is no way to name them all; Hunt Magnetos,, Snap On Tools, F&F Racing, Ballou Motorsports, and Rod Tiner Racing. I mean man, the list just goes on and on. 

Yeah, and that's one helluva list!!!!!!! You won the first ever Spec-Sprint Nationals at the famous Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico..  
HK: That sure is a great race to win! But, it was actually my 4th non-wing win of the year. I also drove for Rick Eversault in the #O7. 

That's a big win brother. Anytime you can beat shoes like Darrell Hanestad and David Goodwill, that's as big a win as any. Both of those guys are always on top of their game.....  
HK: It wasn't easy. I was more mentally worn out in that race more than any others. Trying to race the track and keep "The Hammer" in sight. It also helps that a ton of people were helping out with the weekend. RPM Racing Engines built us a new motor that runs. So it was nice to have one less thing to worry about. 

How did you like running topless? Are we going to see more of that next year?
HK: Running topless is pretty great. It's just you and the car, and you have no crutch to lean on. Right now Matt and I are trying to secure some sponsorships to try and run the Chico Friday night program, but the wing car for Harley comes first. 

"HK" tell me about the adjustments you had to make as a driver.... 
HK: The spec cars are great! Running without the wing, you've got to pace yourself and don't over drive the car. 

Definitely a different feeling having no wing to hold you. I can attest to you being a crowd favorite. It doesn't matter where this ugly dude sits. I can always hear fans root for you. Why do you think this is? 
HK: Maybe being around for a while has something to do with it. But, people also know when I had the orange #40 around. I struggled for many years, and did without to make it work. It's a relief when you know that you are wanted by car owners, and that your services are needed. 

I hear you're going to the PRI show this year. What are you hoping comes out of your visit up there? 
HK: Well, actually Matt is going. He's trying to drum up some product help so we can attack the non-wing run at Chico and around. I would be going, but having a new son, someone has to babysit and I sure am not leaving him with Matt !

Congrats Brother!! I know you'll make a great dad! I have no doubt, that if you attack your goal like you attack the track, you'll be just fine..... 
HK: Right now having a goal of winning a dozen or even a baker's dozen is all I have my sights set on! 

Well buddy, I wish you the best. This writer can attest to your driving prowess. You definitely are an added addition to our beloved California Sprint Car Racing Family. 
HK: It's pretty nice to be noticed. It makes it feel like all of these years wasn't for nothing. Doing this is pretty nice too. Thanks for buckling up and taking a ride with me. 

The honor is all mine...... 
HK: No, No the honor is all mine! Hopefully the 2006 year is a productive one in the 5H and the 40X, and we can win some races and do some good. Good luck my friend, and us fans will be watching you!!!!!!!






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