November 14th, 2005
HARLEYSVILLE, PA- It can only be compared to the utter joy of a mountain climber reaching the crest of a peak, glaring over and seeing only the horizon.
The sensation, the celebration, and the relief - all the same emotions felt by a stock car driver when they finally reach the checkered first in a feature and secure that elusive breakthrough victory. Mike Gular had reached the peak's cusp, catching a glimpse of the horizon before coming short of the goal.
Since kick-starting his career in 2000, Gular had mastered qualifying heat races, starred in the tough to tame Cash Dashes and managed countless top-five finishes in main events (including 10 runner-up efforts), but win number one eluded him.
That all changed on July 2 at Grandview Speedway, the tough one-third-mile oval located in Bechtelsville, Pa.
Starting 11th, the 22-year-old piloted his Leroy Denny-powered Bicknell No. 53 into the lead on lap 24 and fought off veterans Kenny Gilmore and Ray Swinehart for an Independence Day Weekend to remember.
Gular, a second-generation driver pre-empted in the sport by his father, driving sensation Rudy, climbed to the roof of his family-owned, bright yellow Modified amidst a shower of fireworks to celebrate the win.
"Getting that win was such a relief, just getting that weight off my shoulders," he said. "It just seemed like we could never catch a break.
"It was big for the whole team. After five years, they finally got the recognition they deserved. It was good for the sponsors, the crew and everyone involved. It didn't hurt my confidence, either."
The Harleysville, Pa., native finished fourth in Grandview's NASCAR Modified standings, rallying off the feature win and a third in the prestigious Forrest Rogers Memorial 50 on Aug. 6.
On Friday nights, Gular strapped into Chad Sinon's BPG Motorsports No. 53 for weekly competition at Penn-Can Speedway in Susquehanna, Pa., a three-eighths-mile oval featuring a mix of big- and small-block engines powered by gas and alcohol.
He ended the year third in points, the top finishing rookie, and scored a top-three finish in the Sept. 17 "King of the Can" 100-lapper at Al Wilcox and Reed Miller's facility.
Penn-Can provided Gular with big-block seat time, a distinct change from the more limited 9-to-1 engines mandated at Grandview.
Taking the operation on the road, Gular followed the South Region of the Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour, placing eighth in the regional standings and 10th overall (of over 100 competitors who took part in the Tour's inaugural season).
The RoC experience provided seat time at new tracks, including Five Mile Point (N.Y.) Speedway and Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway.
Running Bob Miller's popular specials-only "Thunder on the Hill" Series, Gular earned three top-five finishes against dirt Modified racing's top names, including the potent "Super 7."
"It was our best year yet," said Gular, reflecting on a season that included over 50 events. "We were competitive at every track we raced, including some we visited for the first time.
"I'm proud that we've built a team that's now a top team wherever we go, and we hope to continue that."
Off the track, the team displayed their car at the Sunoco Motorsports Expo, held at the Fort Washington (Pa.) Expo Center in January. Over 40,000 race enthusiasts attended the event, providing Gular Motorsports with unprecedented exposure.
Gular also took part in the Lower Salford Community Nite Out, Salford Hills Community Day and the T.H. Properties Spring Barbecue.
Sponsors of Gular Motorsports in 2005 included: T.H. Properties - America's Fastest Growing Builder; A.M. Goshow and Sons, Inc.; Anderson Windows; Chad Sinon Motorsports; Leroy Denny Race Engines; Windover Fabricators; Drakas Family Chiropractic; Juniper Auto Body; ISC Racers Tape; Remax 440 - Colleen Gular; Gular and Manion Lawn and Concrete; Fourstar Lettering; and Fastener Specialties.
Plans are underway for the 2006 season, with a focus on securing a track championship and an improvement in touring series events. A new Gular Motorsports website will be launched in January.
"We ended 2005 strong and we hope to carry that momentum into next season."
Mike Gular can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.