User Interview: Gearhead

Q&A with noted Clutch Racing Dynasty user Gearhead

We recently contacted Clutch Racing Dynasty guru, Gearhead, to talk about building engines, signing drivers, advanced settings, Mario Lemieux, junkyards, being a crew member, a bat, a parrot and a gator.

WIS

Who is Gearhead?

Gearhead

I'm Doug Wilson from Western, Pennsylvania - just an old time racer that just really likes the sport and competition . I've been a crew member on sprint car for about 20 years now, but with family and career, I don't get to spend as much time with it. My dad was always active in racing with us growing up and we were always traveling all across the country to see various tracks and types of races. As for my user name and nickname, my grandfather gave me the name "Gearhead." He had a small junk yard and I used to go there and tear stuff a part and then put it back together to see if I could get it to work. My success rate got better as I got older. He said I was a natural gearhead just like him and my Dad. He was a 60's generation muscle car guy and a retired aircraft mechanic of 33 years, so I sort of acquired the gene from him. The nickname stuck when I started working on the race car team at age 16. People always say they can look at me and hear the gears turning my head as I am always thinking about how to make the car work better or go faster. I served in the Army for 8 years and did a lot of traveling and saw a lot of different cultures, but I had enough of traveling. Now, I am a nuclear welder for a large company and have been in the welding industry for about 25 years. I have also been happily married to my wife Tracy for 14 years and have two girls 14 and 6.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

Gearhead

My brother, atrain_east told me about it. He was playing the hockey and football here at WIS. He and I used to play this game called Miller Lite Virtual Racing which was similar to CRD and was free. You had to watch the races to find out all the codes in the Miller Lite car to get the extra cash to fund your team. They got rid of that after about three years and that was right around the same time CRD launched. I checked it out and I haven't put it down yet, a couple times

WIS

What dynasty and/or SimLeague games have you played?

Gearhead

I have only played CRD. I keep wanting to play hockey, but, with some babysitting of other teams that I do, it's pretty tough to do. I'm running eight teams right now. Including the teams that I am babysitting, I have 22 championships under my belt, but can only account for 20 of them with my username. My only real goal left now is to claim a Cup championship in World Petty and that will pretty much complete my dynasty. But World Petty is the toughest of them all.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Gearhead

Hockey and fishing. I am a big Penguins fan and try to catch a game when I can. I try to get out and fish whenever I can, but my work and family schedule get in the way of that. My wife and I always love to travel when we get the chance. And, I enjoy playing poker online. Being involved in racing is obviously big as well.

WIS

Why do you think it is that sports, particularly Nascar, are so big in our culture?

Gearhead

With Nascar, it is all about the intensity - the engines, the crowd. You may have hundreds of thousands of people in the stands rooting for one of 43 different teams. Everyone cheers for the personality that meets his own. For me, my passion is rooted in the muscle car era of the 1960s and 70s when it was all about horse power. And going to the Friday night dirt tracks and listening to the engines and watching the crowd going crazy over the racing. You can just feel the intensity - it's mesmerizing.

WIS

Have you played many organized sports or driven competitively?

Gearhead

I raced motocross for a few years while stationed in Hawaii and got pretty good at that but after a bad crash and 7 pins in my arm, I thought it was time to settle down. So I found my wife and hung my handle bars up and started a new hobby. I have taken the race cars out for tuneups and practice laps, but never driven competitively. My focus was on how to make my driver and car better on the track - not so much on the driving part for me.

WIS

What athletes did you admire most growing up?

Gearhead

Mario Lemieux, Dale Earnhardt, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Greene and Steve Kinser - the best sprint car driver ever and my Dad's hometown hero.

WIS

Who are your current favorite athletes?

Gearhead

Evgeni Malkin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Ryan Malone. I don't really like Sidney Crosby that much. He is really good, but there is too much hype and he just seems to be missing some piece of personality that you need as a hockey player. Crosby doesn't have the fight in him. I sort of see him as a whiner. He lacks the grittiness of a hard nosed hockey player.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Gearhead

Crew for Nascar. I've sent in applications to Hendrick Motorsports before, but there is such a small chance of that working unless you know someone.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

Gearhead

Steve Martin - he was my childhood idol and the reason I thought that I should be a standup comedian, Jim Carrey - there is something about him that always makes laugh, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mario Lemieux.

WIS

With 20 championships and three teams at the WISCup level, you have been one of the best users in our Clutch Racing Dynasty game. How would you characterize the game in its current state?

Gearhead

It's come a long way. It is a shame that Jaywat513 had to go. Norbert has come in and done a good job and is slowly learning. But, this game has a lot more potential. It needs someone on it with an interest in Nascar and the programming skills to translate what happens on the track. Norbert does what he can and I can't expect him to fix all the problems we have but he does do his best. But, for the most part, CRD truly has endless potential and good balance throughout the game. The biggest improvement left to make is to update the crews and the play-by-play. We don't really need 70 year old crew chiefs still in business were trying to run a race car team not a retirement home. The PBP needs to be a little more specific about what actually happens on the track to resolve some scoring issues and DNF's that happen along the way.

WIS

What type of car do you use and why?

Gearhead

Dodge and I am not sure why. I used to use Chevy exclusively, but I always saw Dodge's in front of me. When World Pearson started, I went in with a Dodge and it seemed easier to set up. With a Chevy, you have to get the advanced settings just right to do well. With the Dodge, you can make up for any settings' mistakes with the extra horsepower. Dodge has the bigger margin for error.

WIS

What are your general guidelines to searching for and signing drivers and crew?

Gearhead

Sign both young. After 35, there is pretty much no advancement. Apparently, they become arrogant and it is difficult to increase passing and drafting. With crew chiefs, you need to sign them young because then they can build up experience by making new parts. After a few seasons, you are just repairing and overhauling and that doesn't help him gain the experience that he needs. I also always go for more experience in a crew chief than a driver. If the driver has more experience, he won't listen to the CC. But the driver only sees what is in front of him, while the CC can see the entire track at all times. As a crew member myself, I know that I always critique my driver because it is important for him to get a different perspective on what's happening on the track.

WIS

What are your general guidelines to searching for and signing Sponsors?

Gearhead

Sponsors can be brutal. In the early seasons, I look for a sponsor that is easily satisfied. I don't go for big milestones because they are hard to hit. You only have a sponsor for one year so you just need to make them happy that long. Then, when I find the right balance and have most of the parts I need so I am not relying on the money, I take some chances with sponsors and go big.

WIS

How do you approach the adjustable race and pit settings?

Gearhead

Experience. I know what each of the advanced settings actually does for a race car. I've coached a lot of people in CRD who want to get out of just using the general settings, but aren't sure what to do. There are topics in the CRD Forums that explain the settings too. We know that not everyone has the racing background, so we want to help. I am definitely not afraid to share the wealth of this experience and help people out.

WIS

How have you gone about managing your money with upgrades and winnings?

Gearhead

At lower levels, you're really tight. Again, the Forums have the rock bottom price for each upgrade, so I watch for parts to get down close to those levels before I make any purchases. My main concern with upgrades is always to make my turnaround times faster. In order to balance the racing schedule, timing is everything.

WIS

What is the biggest thing that you think separates you from other CRD users?

Gearhead

My racing background. There are a few other guys like me with similar backgrounds (h0tr0d for one of them) and I find that they are often some of my biggest competition in the game. But there are also a few that do there homework and have found the right stuff without having a racing background and are just as good if not better than me.

WIS

What can you tell our users who may be unfamiliar with the game about the merits of CRD?

Gearhead

It's probably the most challenging dynasty game that you can play - in a good way. There are so many things to do and to try. I've done so much analysis and gone through mounds of spreadsheets to find the right balances between driver, crew and car. There is always a way to win too. Just when you think you are the king of the castle, someone new can come in and dethrone you. H0tr0d and a few others have proved that one to me.

It is also important to talk about the community of guys who play CRD. If it wasn't for those guys, CRD would be a boring game. With these guys, there is always something going on - some debate or discussion. Right now, we kind of have a young whippersnappers vs. old farts club thing going on. Once the game gets in you and you know the people, it's hard to go a day without it. These guys are really my friends. And that friendship is an important part of every day for me. For example, a couple years ago, I lost my home in an explosion. It was a really tough time for me. The CRD users were there to support me and really helped me out. I even know of instances where some long-time users have run into financial hardship and stated that they had to stop playing - only to have other users help him them and keep them in the game.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

Gearhead

First of all, I respect everyone who plays this game. CRD is a challenging game and I appreciate anyone who gives it a shot. The smart users will actually try to be more verbal and ask questions in the Forums. Someone will always help a new user who shows interest in the game. We want to keep as many around as we can and, hopefully, fill the field at every level. The users I enjoy the most are h0tr0d and his bat and his competitiveness, beattle34 for his wisdom of the game and our own CRD HOF thread, Bronco2rings for his help with my start here, cofanof43 for his CRD user interviews, redsox18_05 for his help in my success, tillyman1 for his stats updates and his gator, kettlevalley - for his new user forum with advanced Q&A's, oldpirateman (homeboy) and his parrot and even colonels19 (Mr. Opinionated). Sorry if I missed anyone along the way. Then there are guys like jbracerx who I tutored and in the end beat me at my own game. I was very proud of that because it was like a victory for me and him at the same time.T hese core people go above and beyond just to make CRD just that much better for all (my hat goes off to them).

WIS

If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position and what would you be rated?

Gearhead

I want to play hockey as a center. I am someone who is always looking ahead. Actually I learned that in racing. Early on, someone told me to always look forward - to the next turn and beyond. That happens in my professional career as well. I need to be prepared to the every action to my reaction. That is what Mario Lemieux did when he was on the ice, looking ahead of the play and being one step ahead of his opponent. And if I had to put someone beside me on the ice it would be my brother. He is the world's nicest guy off the ice; but, on it, he's a different guy. He's Darius Kasparaitis in skates - really good and a little mean.

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