The #71 Sprint car has been one of the most prolific Sprint cars in
California Sprint car history. With shoes like Wayne Sue,
Jimmy Sills, Tim Green, Rick Hirst, Darrell Hanestad, just to
name a few, have sat under the wing of the well known mount.
Nationally known long-time car owner Richard Lovell, owner of
Yuba City Scrap & Steel that us race fans have grown
accustomed to seeing on the wing, has Ďretiredí from
full-time battle. While one chapter has closed, another has
opened as son; Korey is now the owner-operator of the powerful
mount tearing up the tracks in Northern California. This kid
from Yuba City has seen it all. He has worked for the best,
and has also traveled all over California watching the best of
them ďget after it!Ē in the family owned Sprint car. Korey
Lovell knows Sprint car racing. He is from the ďold
SchoolĒ. Heís busted his ass rebuilding torn up race cars,
and now as a driver, has become a threat to win anytime he
pulls into the pits. Even with all of this, he still remains
one of the nice guys in the sport. I chatted it up with the
Yuba City gasser...
How old were you when you were first exposed to Sprint car racing?
The first recollection I have was, when I was 4 or 5 years old
at Chico. My dad got his first Sprint car in 1975.
When you were young, did you travel with the car?
A little bit. When I was around 12, we went to the Knoxville
Nationals; we went to Devilís Bowl that year too. We got to
go back there that year.
Did you have a favorite to tow to when you were that young?
Knoxville has all the history and all the stuff. But at
12-years-old, it was all about the snack bar back then!
Who was driving the car back then?
That year it was Jimmy Sills.
Was their a certain driver that you idolized when you were growing up?
There's so many in the past that drove for us that were great.
We can go from Tim Green, Sills, Ron Shuman, Steve Kinser, Jac
Haudenschild, and Doug Wolfgang. I mean there have been so
many good guys that have been in it. Once I started working on
the car though, it was probably Darrell Hanestad.
Great choice, but why Darrell?
He just fín stood on it! He was always so happy go lucky and
was always in a good mood. He was all about just standing on
Iím sure you have a lot of good stories from those earlier days. Not
that youíre old by any means!
Oh yeah! I remember going to Skagit, and all of the fun we
would have. Just a bunch of different things. It was pretty
crazy when we were young but, if youíre having a good time
itís all worth it!
There should be a book called "The Lovell Legacy!" The Lovell
name is synonymous with not only California Sprint car racing,
but Sprint car racing throughout the U.S.
Yeah, a couple of years ago, my dad got put up for the 360
car owner of the year when my brother and I ended up 1st
and 2nd in the Championship at Marysville. I think
weíre lucky just being able to do it. We never went to the
track needing anything. I was brought up in the right
direction. Money doesnít grow on trees, and you have to work
your butt off on the car and do whatever it takes to race!
After wrenching all of those years, when did you decide to start racing?
We wanted to for a long time, but my dad didnít want to
start over basically. We started doing the Modified Midgets
when we were already 20 or 21-years-old. We got to run the
Midgets when we werenít running the Sprint car. We really
didnít get to do a full season almost anywhere with those.
We had Garry Brazier in the car for GSC that season and we
would take the 360 whenever we would run Chico. Kevin and I
would take turns.
Each season, we could see you get faster and faster...
It was tough for me. I ran the 360 a few times, and
finished 2nd in my first Civil War race that year.
It was also the first time I ran a 410. It was at the Gold
Cup, it was like in í96. I ended up winning my heat. Steve
Kinser was in it! I went on and finished 10th on
our night, but failed to make the A for Saturday. The Ď97
season at Marysville, right out of the gate Kevin and I were
on the front row for the first race, and I went on to win the
night. I ended up winning 4-races that year.
Speaking of Marysville, whatís you opinion of the joint? You seemed to
have no problem getting around there...
Oh hell no man! I used to whine about Placerville, but I
still went! Itís just one of those things. Once you get used
to it, itís like anywhere else. Itís just as racy as
anywhere else. Whether itís hooked up, dry or crappy. No
matter what the track is like, you can run two grooves. Itís
not a bad place. It seems like if you grew up at Placerville,
you didnít like Marysville. And if you grew up at
Marysville, you didnít like Placerville. My biggest goal was
to go and start liking Placerville, because they have so many
Civil War races there!
Where do feel most comfortable running on the race track?
I would have to say that when the track goes to the
bottom, I just lick my chops! I like running Chico, and
hauling her in there and all that, but I just love running the
bottom of the race track. I had fun with a few drivers at
Marysville one night. We were walking around the track after
the heat races. I told them that if youíre two feet off of
this line, Iím passing you! I was talking about the bottom
of the race track. With Marysville itís was all about being
in the shit or being on the tacky part of the track. One night
I was walking the track with Ryan Flynn and Destiny Hayes, and
I told her if youíre not right here (the bottom) Iím going
to pass you. She was on the pole, and I was in the 2nd
or 3rd row. She led the whole thing, and I passed
her with 3-laps to go!
Are you content on what youíre doing now?
I donít know. At this stage of the game, Iím pretty much
settled in here. I canít just up and move to Indiana, but
Iíve threatened it a few times over the winter! I donít
know anybody there, and I do have it pretty comfortable over
Do you toy with the thought of running with the GSC fulltime?
I would like to, but there is a lot of traveling. I donít
mind the traveling, but that is where the Civil War deal is
really cool. You donít travel a lot and the racing is good.
It would be great if somebody wanted to pay the bills, but I
still have a regular job too. I leave around 3:00 p.m. for the
Friday Chico shows, and that alone puts a little strain on our
Youíre talking about the family owned Yuba City Scrap & Steel?
Yeah, Iím really lucky. All of the race cars are on
site. I have my own shop here. My dad helps me a lot, and he
actually still sponsors me. He didnít cut the cord on me. I
figured we could make it work, and weíll see what happens
the following year!
With all of the years wrenching on these things, did it help you as a
Oh hell yeah! Like I tell people, driving is the hard part. I
can put one of these cars together in the dark. My whole thing
was watching and setting it up. Iíve always watched, made
adjustments and set it up. I was good at working on the car,
so when I started to drive, it was a big adjustment. I
wasnít sure of myself for a while.
It sounds as if you had a lot of confidence in yourself as a wrench. Did
you ever second guess your dad?
Oh yeah definitely! (Laughing) Weíd get drinking a little
bit at the races and on our way home from the races. I would
ask him what if we did this to the car instead of that, what
do you think the car would have done. He used to get madder at
me then anything! I was just trying to figure out what it was
supposed to do. We had many nights with many fights with
nights like that.
In my opinion, California Sprint car racing would not be the same
without the #71L in the pits. That number carries a lot of
history as well as memoriesÖ
(laughing) Iím just glad someone else thinks so! Really,
Iím just able to do my favorite thing in the damn world!
Iíve had this little girl come down to the pits for the past
three years to have me re-autograph her shirt in the same
place, because it has faded from where I signed it last time.
Now thatís really neat. Some of the people that come down
are just amazing, and I just canít thank them enough.
Who would you like to thank buddy?
Gary, we donít have the biggest and best budget, but we have
everything we need. Thanks to my father, my brother Kevin, my
crew-chief Craig Hall, Bean, all of my sponsors who have
helped me all of these years. Rodney, from http://www.theskipperpartys.net/.
Heís kept me boosted up, and he keeps the confidence factor
on full-tilt. JB Racing Components, Lee Brewer, and I
couldnít forget to mention my beautiful, supportive
girlfriend. Robbie Padjen has also been really supportive of
my racing. I would also like to thank all of the fans. I
really canít thank everyone enough!
*Special thanks to Johnís Racing Photos