For more than six years, auto racing consumed Nick Bailey.
As a member of various racing crews in North Carolina, the Point Place resident found himself surrounded by people like him who were eager to carve out a career in auto racing. He also learned the technical aspects of working on a race car.
But Bailey saw a drawback in the lifestyle of being in a performance-based industry. Whether you’re a crew chief, a mechanic, or a shop employee, your chances of job security and advancement improve if you’re part of a winning crew. If your crew and its car can’t perform, you’re dispensable and replaceable with someone who will do the job.
Bailey gained perspective because of that. Yet, when he weighed his future in racing in North Carolina against his family in Ohio, the bloodlines won out. The 2002 Woodward graduate is one of 33 entries for today’s Glass City 200 at Toledo Speedway.
“When I was down there, my racing friends were my family, but that’s all I had,” said Bailey, who returned to Toledo three years ago. “I didn’t have blood family. Because of racing, my friends and I became close and I had really good friendships there. Racers have a different mentality. The only thing we think about is racing.”
Bailey now works as a fabricator with his family’s company, PB Fabrication and Mechanical Contractor, which, he proudly points out, helped with the installation of grandstands at Toledo Speedway, as well as some of the construction surrounding the half-mile oval. Back home in Toledo, he now drives a race car, instead of just working on one.
“I have three children of my own, so I’m getting the best of both worlds right now,” said Bailey, who won his first heat race at Toledo Speedway when he was 16. “I’m still able to race, and it’s still a big part of all my kids’ lives.”
Bailey noted the faster speeds on Toledo’s short track, but the Glass City 200 isn’t just defined by its speed. Strategy on the half-mile oval, 2012 champion Terry Senneker explained, is also key.
“There’s always a balance between running a car at max and getting speed out of it, and being competitive at the end of the race,” Senneker said. “You want to put yourself in position at the front of the field, but you don’t want to put yourself at the risk of crashing and not finishing. You have to manage the tires at the same time. We run 100 laps on the tires, and typically we get a fairly long stretch of green. In 100 laps, you wear tires down to no tread. You can’t abuse the tires. You have to go as fast as you can and not overdrive the car.”
The Glass City 200, however, is also considered to be one of the region’s marquee races.
“First of all, it’s a fun place to run, and it has faster speeds than any other track we go to,” Senneker said. “The prestige of the race and it’s history is a pretty big deal. This is one of the big ones. There’s probably only a few historic venues for outlaw racing, and this is one of them.”
Bailey also considered the race’s historical aspect, and is aware of his place in the field.
“You’re racing against people like Harold Fair, Jr., and Terry Senneker, and they’re part of families that have an ungodly number of years racing and an ungodly number of wins,” Bailey said. “These guys have it together when they show up here.
“Racing against those teams is fun, but to line up with them is thrilling.”