While 2021 is a year that is hopefully more normal than 2020, one area that will be different in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour garage area will be at tech inspection.
Longtime Tour tech director Rick McCaughey announced his retirement at the end of the 2020 season. Moving into his spot will be Dave Farrell, who’s been working with Modifieds for over a decade.
A native of upstate New York, Farrell has been working racing tech for decades, from USAC to Legends cars. He jumped over to Modified racing in 2009. Now, he’s the Whelen Modified Tour tech director.
It’s a process that’s been in the works for a couple of years. The last two seasons, Farrell worked alongside McCaughey, preparing for the day that McCaughey would hand him the reins. It gave Farrell the opportunity to ask questions and learn from one of the best in McCaughey on how to effectively officiate the garage area.
“[McCaughey] is just a wealth of knowledge from years ago,” Farrell said. “If you have a question on, ‘how do you approach doing this,’ he’d give me ideas and I just run with them.
“I tried to take as much over the last couple of years off his shoulders and go with it.”
After years of prep work, the support system in place around Farrell gives him faith that his team will be able to do its job in the garage area.
“Am I confident? I am. Will there be challenges? Absolutely, and hopefully, it’ll be a good thing… Having (McCaughey), (Tour director) Jimmy Wilson, (Touring Series Tech Director) Tony Glover, the accessibility to everybody is a wonderful thing.”
Farrell has been in touch with McCaughey repeatedly this offseason, always on the lookout for pointers.
“He always stay friendly,” Farrell said. “He’s a very, very good man.”
Disagreements between teams and tech are all too common. But Farrell has always looked at the long game in terms of what a good tech official means to any touring series.
“I think in the long run, teams, owners, drivers appreciate the fact of our thoroughness,” Farrell said. “That’s where we try to be at our best. To keep it fair.”
When Farrell’s first race as director finally arrives, it won’t look like Tour races of the past. And even though the stands won’t be packed come the season-opener at Martinsville in April, Farrell is just thankful to be at the track doing what he loves. After all, it wasn’t long ago that there wasn’t any racing at all.
“Getting back to normal will be a great thing,” Farrell said. “But you know what? As of right now, hey, thank you very much for opening up the facilities and giving some people a chance to go. That’s the way you have to look at it right now.
“I consider myself very fortunate to be on my way someplace, to participate, to officiate, and to watch a race.”