F or John McCosker, the hobby that once kept him out of trouble as a youngster is now a vital teaching tool for his two young sons.
The general manager of Love’s Seafood gained local notoriety when he won the Super Street Car race at Oglethorpe Speedway’s Seasonal Championship on Aug. 30, but he hasn’t let the win get to his head. According to McCosker, racing is like anything in life — it’s best to leave a little room for error.
“I didn’t really get into racing until 2001 or 2002,” McCosker said. “I used to get into a lot of trouble as a kid, and racing really kept me occupied. Now, I compare racing to just about everything, including work and school. I tell my kids, if you start out early, you’ve got some room for error. If you start late and you’re getting zeros in class, then you’re always playing catch-up. And that’s just not the way to do it.”
McCosker, who races for Love’s Seafood Street Stocks, followed his own advice last month and earned himself a berth into the final tournament of the year — the 16th annual Showdown in Savannah, which takes place Oct. 10-12.
But the difficulty in street stock racing, according to McCosker, is just as much about the maintenance of the car as it is about passing your competitors in the lanes.
“There are only 15 or 20 races in a year, so you’ve only got so many chances to even be eligible to win a championship,” McCosker said. “You’ve got to have good equipment, a good car and you’ve got to have a few good people helping you.”
According to Oglethorpe Speedway guidelines, only stock metal bodies or aftermarket bodies are allowed to compete, and all of the cars must retain their stock appearance. Love’s Seafood Street Stocks makes its own repairs and buys its own parts — down to the fuel on race day — and even McCosker admits, this isn’t a hobby people can enjoy on the cheap.
“We probably spend almost 50 grand a year, and we definitely don’t do it for money,” he said. “It’s like offshore fishing or anything else like that. You put a lot more money in then you’ll ever get back out of it.”
What McCosker doesn’t get out of racing financially, he hopes to give back to his sons. He has a six-year-old who already hits the tracks in go-karts and a 15-year-old who McCosker hopes to see embrace competitive racing in full sometime next year.
For now, McCosker said he’s content just looking ahead to the next race. The annual Showdown in Savannah usually draws a bigger turnout than the Seasonal Championships, he said, and can be a more difficult race to win. It’s the local fans, that really bring the experience together, he said.
“When we won the championship, there were 30 people down at the track waiting for us,” McCosker said. “We have a lot of fans that support us and Love’s Seafood. Most of the people in the stands are affiliated with the racers somehow — either they sponsor a team or they know one of the racers. It’s a good feeling.”
The 16th annual Savannah Showdown kicks off Oct. 10, but McCosker’s car won’t hit the tracks until 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11. For more information on the race, visit Oglethorpe Speedway’s website at ospracing.net.