The hours spent in the winter making sure their cars were ready to race in the UMRA King of the TQ Midget series this summer are paying off for two Tony Stewart Racing drivers.

Driver Ron Combs is a firm believer that races are won in the garage, so he spends much of his time tending to the maintenance of the vehicles. He and his 22 year-old teammate, Callie Wolsiffer, are leading all drivers with 10 races to go. Combs is trailing Wolsiffer by one point but is not concerned with who wins the individual championship as long as they both finish in the top two.

“I work on both cars the same,” Combs said. “If Callie wins I’m going to be just as happy as if I won it. … I”m not just going to let her win if I can beat her, but for the most part she has held her own tremendously. And if she ends up winning it, it’ll be great.”

The 45-year-old Greensburg resident, who’s been racing since age 17, already has won three individual championships for Tony Stewart’s racing team. Finishing the series first and second in points is not an easy task for a two-car team, but Combs told Stewart that he believes he and Wolsiffer have what it takes.

The equipment and resources from Stewart and the team sponsors are what Combs said has helped him gain the confidence in the team going into the series. Wolsiffer is looking to set an individual milestone by accomplishing something no woman driver as ever done if she continues to hang on to her first-place standing.

“It would be an amazing accomplishment to win with this team and with this series,” Wolsiffer said. “I don’t think there has ever been in the years that this organization has been together that they’ve ever had a female champion.”

Wolsiffer became the first female driver to win a feature race in the UMRA TQ Midget series after wining at the Rushville County fair July 1. Winning in Rushville was a big confidence boost for Wolsiffer to keep going and possibly win it all. She gives a lot of credit to Combs for mentoring her as a racer.

“Ron is a great teammate,” Wolsiffer said. “He’s my mentor. He teaches me a lot about cars. If we wouldn’t have teamed up with them I don’t think I’d be doing as well because he’s taught us a lot. These cars handle differently than anything that I’ve ever raced.”

Combs avoids looking at the point totals throughout the races. He hardly ever knows how far away he is from Wolsiffer or how close the third-place driver is to him. Following the point totals are just another headache that he would rather not worry about, Combs said.

Wolsiffer, on the other hand, likes to view the point totals. It keeps her on track during her races. Knowing her margin of error with the other racers helps her make better decisions while driving. Now that the races are in session doesn’t mean the time spent in the garage has disappeared.

The cars are washed immediately after ever race. They are never brought back to the garage dirty unless one has sustained major damage. The team takes a break on Sundays, but the maintenance program for the week kicks off every Monday. They usually spend a couple of nights a week in the shop putting on new tires, changing the oil and making sure the filters are clean on top of whatever other pressing issues might arise after a race. These are the little things that are essential to making sure this duo finishes on top.

“We’ll just keep grinding it out race by race,” Combs said. “And hopefully we can accomplish that goal.”

The racing duo

Tony Stewart Racing team

Name: Callie Wolsiffer

Age: 22

Car number: 4

Point total placing: First

Experience in series: Three years

Name: Ron Combs

Age: 45

Car number: 7

Point total placing: second place

Experience in series: 28 years

Upcoming TQ racing:

Aug. 5: Montpelier (Ind.) Speedway

Aug. 11: Route 44 Speedway, Liberty, Ind.

Aug. 18: Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway

Aug. 26: Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway

Sept. 2: Shelby County Fairgrounds, Shelbyville, Ind.

Sept. 3: Twin Cities Raceway, North Vernon, Ind.

Sept. 22-22: Fall Nationals at Lincoln Park Speedway, Putnamville, Ind.

Sept. 29: Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway

Sept. 30: Shelby County Fairgrounds, Shelbyville, Ind.

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.