Winding up race car helps Null unwind

May 07, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The smell of hot asphalt, the sound of squealing tires, the feel of inertia sucking him back in the seat as the car races toward 60 mph.

For Herbert "Herbie" Null Jr. of Greencastle, racing almost is like a drug.

"It's in my blood," he said.

Now that he is a national champion super stock drag racer, his talent for the sport is intimidating the competition at each race.

Null recently won Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., for super stock, one of the largest races in the U.S.

Yet sitting in his Greencastle home, Null barely acknowledges the case of trophies behind him.

When asked what he does, Null said, "I work for Mack in the engine test department."

Racing is a hobby, not a career, he said.

"I don't do it (race) for the money," he said. "My dad started racing 40 years ago, and 15 years ago, he told me I should try it, and I got hooked."


That was the beginning for Null, who has won four national races and nine divisional races.

There is a science to what Null does, he said.

There has to be.

One race takes about 10 seconds, less if a driver and his car run well, he said.

It seems like a blink of an eye, but Null said much can go wrong in those 10 short seconds that can disqualify a racer or forfeit the round.

Null explained in super stock drag racing, how fast a driver responds to the light that indicates "go," or how fast he is off "the tree" affects his final score.

"The first round, I'm always nervous," he said. "I don't want to go home."

While he said he has lost his share of races, this March was his time.

Null said he races for his father, who had to retire for health reasons a few years ago.

His father, a resident of South Carolina, still is involved in Null's racing career by making and maintaining all of his engines.

His father also goes to as many of Null's events as possible, he said.

Null Sr. was at Gatornationals this year when Null stood in the winner's circle.

"I felt kind of numb," Null said of his most recent trip to the winner's circle. "I just kept looking over to see how my dad was because I knew he was there and he would be reacting."

Despite the thrill of winning at Gatornationals, Null said he has no plans of pursuing more glory in his sport.

To him it is just that, sport.

"This is how I unwind," he said of racing. "Some guys hunt, some guys fish. I race."

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