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An Old Corvette Has Taken Peters To The Top

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 6 2010
Timothy Peters celebrated his first victory in the Camping World Truck Series last year at Martinsville. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Timothy Peters celebrated his first victory in the Camping World Truck Series last year at Martinsville. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

Hampton, Ga. – Of all the stories in the NASCAR garage, Timothy Peters’ is as good as they come.

His is a story of taking risks, and overcoming odds and pressing ahead in the face of uncertainty with a smile on his face when a more realistic person would be in perpetual frown.

Peters is the Camping World Truck Series points leader heading into today’s E-Z-GO 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A less determined person likely would be watching from the sidelines, if at the race track at all.

Peters, a 29-year-old from Providence, N.C., once was a hotshoe on the short track scene around North Carolina and Virginia.

His career was looking up in 2001 when his father, Tony, his biggest supporter, died of a heart attack at age 53.

“My mom and dad worked hard and went into debt so I could race like a rich kid,” Peters said. “I leaned on my dad for a lot of things, and I might not have made some of the decisions I made if he was still here.”

Still, he made some good decisions along the way. First he signed on to drive trucks for Bobby Hamilton Racing, then moved to Richard Childress Racing to drive Nationwide Series cars.

But the upward movement stalled out, and he was released from Childress’ team at the end of the 2007 season.

Unwilling to give up on his dreams, he consulted with his mother about the possibility of selling one of his father’s prized Corvettes to finance a return to the truck series.

“My father had two Corvettes,” Peters said. “One was a 1967 Stingray, the other one was a 1978 Indianapolis edition pace car.  The ’78 had a 194 original miles on it.

“I just kind of went to my mom and said, ‘I don’t like the outside looking in, and I know that I belong in this series and in this sport.’”

So he and his mom took pictures of the car and posted them on eBay. Three days later a man from West Palm Beach, Fla., purchased the car.

Peters confided that in his haste to get back racing, he lowered his reserve price and cost himself about $5,000, but he had the money he needed to enter a truck race at his home track, Martinsville Speedway.

“That was the money that we needed to get the springs that we needed and to lease the engine,” Peters said. “Steve Stallings was a close friend of my fathers and basically he’s been like a father to me all of my life. I went to him and told him what I was going to try to do, and he and I basically went broke – more so me than him – trying to get back on the map.

“I’m very fortunate that my father had those Corvettes.  From my first memory, those Corvettes had sat on jack stands, and the first time it came off jack stands was when we rolled it outside and put it on the hauler when that gentleman bought it.”

It was a tough transaction for both Peters and his mother.

“My mom is my biggest supporter so I’ve got to give her a lot of thanks and a lot of love for letting me do that,” he said.

Peters went to Martinsville and ran well. Encouraged by the results, he and his makeshift crew continued running trucks out of a residential-style, two-bay garage behind a friend’s house in Danville, Va. He had just one full-time crew member besides himself and was relying on friends to do the jobs that full-time mechanics do on other teams.

Still he managed to hang onto a spot in the top 10 in points after the first few races of 2009. His perseverance under trying circumstances caught the attention of Tom DeLoach, owner of the Red Horse Racing team. DeLoach put Peters behind the wheel of one of his trucks and was rewarded almost immediately with a win at Peters’ home track, Martinsville Speedway.

Then came the big win at Daytona this year in the truck series’ premier event.

Peters, despite his recent success, seems as humble as ever, still taking phone calls to his cell phone from reporters just as he did in the days when he was almost begging for publicity.

“I’ve been very blessed,” he said.

Even though many in the sport say he could have a future over in the Sprint Cup garage, Peters said he’s not anxious to abandon the team that resurrected his career.

“They’re like my family,” he said. “Tom DeLoach gave me an awesome opportunity when other people really weren’t looking at me.

“If I had the right opportunity, I might look at (Cup), but I’m really happy where I am right now.”

But there is one thing he’d like to do sometime down the road. He’d like to buy back his dad’s old ’78 Vette.

“If I could, I would do it in a heartbeat but the gentleman that bought it, we’ve kept in touch and we haven’t had that conversation yet,” Peter said. “I think he’s taken it and kind of buffed on it a little bit and got it probably a little bit better shape than what it was.

“I would do whatever I could to get it back.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 6 2010
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