No. 15 Quality Care car through the streets of San Jose in the
Historic Stock Car Racing Series event during this weekend’s San
Jose Grand Prix
San Jose – Morgan Hill resident Garland Self didn’t grow up with a huge passion for cars.
“I wasn’t really into cars as a hobby,” Self said.
That was until about 10 years ago, when he started making trips to Sonoma’s Sears Point Raceway (now Infineon Raceway), and his newfound hobby began to take off.
“I had a Viper at the time,” Self said. “I was a pretty aggressive driver. I kept spinning the car out.”
That prompted Self, who will race in this weekend’s San Jose Grand Prix, to purchase his first NASCAR, a 1994 No. 15 Quality Care Ford Thunderbird originally driven by Lake Speed.
A short time later, Self began racing and has been doing it ever since.
Self will compete this week as part of the Historic Stock Car Racing Series (HSCRS), a series that takes former NASCAR stock cars and restores them to racing condition.
He’ll be looking to improve on his third-place finish from a year ago, but like every HSCRS competition, the race is more about being out on the course with the other cars.
“It’s not all about winning,” Self said. “It’s going out and driving to the best of your ability, enjoying your car and having fun with the group of cars you’re with.”
The mission of the HSCRS explains that “only in friendly competition can these classic stock cars be best displayed for all racing enthusiasts to enjoy, as a form of living history.”
One of the more exciting aspects of watching a HSCRS race, Self said, is to see cars that are familiar to racing fans out on the track.
Some of the cars being raced this weekend include a Jeff Gordon 1993 No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Lumina and Richard Petty’s 1992 No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix.
Despite the age of the cars, there really isn’t much that’s historic about them.
“The motors aren’t historic,” Self said. “They have to be kept up to date. My whole car’s practically been replaced.”
Another interesting aspect of this week’s race is an auction fundraiser, where people were allowed to bid on a chance to ride along in the historic stock cars for a 10-lap exhibition race.
Last year a wife purchased the ride along as a surprise wedding anniversary present for her husband. This year’s ride will again be a surprise gift purchased for a lucky business partner.
The proceeds for the auction will go directly to the Canary Foundation, a fund that is working toward using computer technology to help detect cancer soon and is also the benefiting cause of the race.
While Self, who serves as president of Selco Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., a company his father started in 1965, doesn’t race for a living, the pictures and memorabilia displayed in his office show his passion for the sport.
His employees have shown great support for him and often come to his races.
“My employees here at Selco are behind me,” Self said. “If they go to the race, we reimburse their tickets.”
Even more importantly, Self has the support of his family.
His wife Debbie, son Joel, daughter Jessica Sutton and son-in-law Aaron Sutton attend all of his races while Joel helps maintain the car when it’s at home in Morgan Hill.
But when it’s time to prepare for a race, the car is passed over to Ray Miller of Miller Motorsports in Campbell.
“If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I’d be able to race,” said Self, who admits he doesn’t know much about working on cars.
“Some drivers do their own work,” Self said. “Honestly I don’t see how they do it.”
In addition to the HSCRS events, Self also races professionally with NASCAR’s Grand National Division in the AutoZone West Series.
“They’re a lot more serious,” Self said of the Grand National drivers. “There’s not as much camaraderie. But they’re a good group of guys, too.”
Self only drives in road course races for Grand National, so with the series planning to increase the amount of road course races, Self said his involvement with Grand National should increase.
“I’ll do all of those,” he said.
But for the time being he’s focusing on getting ready for Sunday’s race – the HSCRS race will take place following the main event, the Champ Car race.
“You just want to go out and do the best you can and hopefully have fun,” Self said. “Because that’s what it’s all about.”