The Driver: "Driver Dan" Cherry

Personal Information

I was born in 1962 and neither of my parents was ever too excited about my interest in racing. I tried other sports to build my interest in competition, but nothing seems to meet with my desire to drive fast and push my limits.

I convinced my long-time, on-again-off-again girlfriend Julie to become my Bride on September 10, 1999. I cannot really say that the wedding went off without a hitch because my Street Stock (Xena) decided to spice it up.

I told Julie that I would not race the weekend prior to the wedding (September 4th), but she said that the car was running great and that we actually could use the race weekend to get rid of some of our pre-wedding gitters. Well…

To make a long story short, during hot laps, the throttle stuck and I was unable to shut it down before nailing the turn 3 wall at Roseville. I did not have my right arm supported (I was trying to shut the engine off) and the impact wound up putting a 6 inch fracture in my right shoulder blade. I also wound up breaking a blood vessel in my right eye that filled the right side of the white with blood and that made for some wonderful pictures. However, the broken shoulder did not put a damper on the wedding or the honeymoon.

Yes, Julie had the chance to back out of marrying me, but decided she loved this racer!

Racing Experience

Not counting the times I sneaked out driving my parents cars before I had a license (and rolling one of them), my racing experience has come in the form of driving on California's public roadways and some Saturday Night Racing.

My first race in a racecar was in an old Dodge cop car at the All American Speedway (then known as the Placer County Speedway) in Roseville, CA. It had 440 Magnum motor (or so that's what the owner said) and it was as heavy as a Tank!! The car was what was called a "Bomber". It had two seats: Driver and Co-Pilot. It was like having your own private rooting section in the car with you.

I finally saved enough money to get a car of my own. I hadn't learned a thing with the Dodge.... I got a 1968 AMC Rebel 4-door. It had a 290 V-8 that I had bored out to a .040 over. I ran that car for two years on just about $3,000. I actually made enough money most every night to pay for my entry fee, fuel and a trailer rental. I had a lot of fun with that car and learned an awful lot.

Spencer Emerson was another racer at the track at that time and I had the joy of being pitted next to him. I found Spencer to be a great guy and very knowledgeable. He helped me understand that I didn't know squat about racing or about racecars!

Well, after the second year of racing, I decided that the only way that I could get better and race a better car was to get a better paying job. And, the only way to get a better job was to get an education. So, I took a 10-year hiatus from racing, got a college degree and got a good job with a consistent paycheck.

In 1996, I started to go back to the races and especially into the pit area when I could. I started shopping around for a good car. I also ran into Spencer and found that he was still having fun. Well, I helped him out when I could and kept on searching for a car. In 1997, I finally found one, a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo. I essentially got a turnkey car (ready to race). I just had to put all the pieces together and pick up some small pieces. Some of the racers at the track and an old sponsor helped me get the car together and I finally made it back on the track.

I named that racecar "Xena" and raced for the remainder of the 1997 season, finishing well and learing a lot!!! 1998 was my first full season in the car and I kept learning. I raced with the Pro Stocks when I could to get more seat time and learn. 1999 was the year I was saving for a wedding, so I teamed up with Spencer and we had fun switching off weekends racing. We got into little games of "who is better" and pushed each other to run the best we could on a limited schedule and budget. Spencer blew two motors (that I know about) and my frame got bent twice (once for good at the end of the season). I also lost a transmission (and there was the occasional black flag -- totally unearned! HA HA!). Anyway, I finished the year with 3 main event wins and one night where I won the trophy dash and the main event (first time in my life!).

On one hand, 2000 was not a very good year; but on another, it was. I picked up a decent pro-stock to replace "Xena". It took a while, but decided on "Lizzie" as a name for the car. I didn't get much of a chance to race the car because of one thing or another. I did finish decent in my first time at a couple of open shows: 8th at Anderson and 11th at Carson City. I ran a modified one night and felt what it was like to get punted (even though I stayed high). That modified experience helped shake some rust off for the open shows.

2001 was the "year of the modified". I wasn't able to get Lizzie on the track, but was asked by S&W Racing to pilot their #42 modified. Spencer Emerson began to build a house and could not devote time to running the modified, so I took over his seat. I ran six good, clean races in the older modified and then got a chance to run the newer modified. It was a lot of fun and I think I learned a lot.

I spent 2002 and 2003 running Lizzie in the Pro Stocks at Roseville, CA when I could. It was fun, but the track decided there weren't enough of us and cancelled the class.

I raced in the new WestCar Late Model Series in 2005 and 2006 with Lizzie, but she was just not enough car for the division and I spent most of my time getting out of the way. I finally gave up on Lizzie in 2007 and sent her to the scrap heap and started converting a coil-over car for 2008.