Doug Herd still getting it done on dirt.

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. Photo is Courtesy of KLR Management Group

WEATHERFORD, Texas — We all know how the sport of short track racing gets in your blood, how it becomes a way of life and often consumes our time for years, if not decades. When any racer gets to enjoy the spoils of victory or a coveted points championship, it can be difficult to hang up the helmet.

For 63-year-old Doug Herd, that desire to strap in and get the most out of any race car still burns very brightly. And after a little time away, he’s back and gearing up for a busy mix of Texas short track races and ARCA sanctioned dirt events in 2022. The veteran wheel-man is as excited as men half his age.

“I still have that same desire to compete and win races I’ve always had,” Herd said. “I can’t wait to climb into a car this year and see what I can do. I don’t think that excitement, that feeling nothing else can replace will ever go away. I hope to do this until I can no longer strap into a seat. I’m fit and ready.”

Herd was successful on the Texas dirt tracks for many years. His career highlights include titles in Crandall, and numerous race wins at the old 85 Speedway, now known as Big O Speedway in Ennis.

“I got into this sport when I was very young,” Herd explained. “My uncle was a mechanic on a team that won three national titles, so I learned a lot from him. Between helping him, driving my own cars and helping others, I’ve been around racing for 30 years. It really is still in my blood.”

If you hung out at short tracks around the DFW area back in the day, chances are you saw him race.

“I have nothing but fond memories of my days on the north Texas short tracks,” Herd added. “Those were the best times of my life. There were more cars in the pits, more people in the stands and stiff competition every week. In Crandall, the racing surface was excellent. That place had a rich history.

“It was the first track I ever attended when I was just four or five years old. I’d go with my uncle, and have so many fond memories there. My uncle built those 302 cubic-inch engines for Jim Crocker, so I always rooted for him. The place was just a classic bullring, and I’m sad to see it closed down now.”

That mix of events for this season will include Springfield and Duquoin (MO), and a few Texas ovals.

“I just got off the phone with a guy who wants to go hit some short tracks here in Texas this year,” Herd said. “I’ll be splitting time in that car with another driver, but I’m very excited about getting into it when I can. The short tracks have always lit me up; it’s exciting, loud and gets the heart pumping faster.

“I’ve seen the recent resurgence in short track racing here in Texas, and it makes me happy. Those Factory Stock cars look like fun, and I’m seeing the Modifieds and Sport Mods really take off. I’m thrilled the pandemic didn’t kill the sport. It seems to be thriving, and I want in on that excitement.”

Herd knows the world of ARCA racing these days is ultra-competitive, with a steep learning curve.

“I have a good friend who drove in ARCA that I can call at any time with questions,” he said. “I think he finished second in points the year we met in Kansas. He runs in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now, and has offered some pointers on the business side of this sport.

“There are several guys who provide some guidance as to where to run on any given track, but they will only tell you so much. They want you to go out and figure it out on your own, which is the right way to do it. I’ve turned some laps, learned a ton but have more to learn, for sure. I’m ready for more.”

With his solid connection with a proven ARCA team, plans coming together for a little fun on the short tracks and incredible positive attitude, Herd is almost bubbly these days, and rightfully so.

“Our plans are to get to those ARCA dirt events, and maybe even some road courses as well. All those guys in ARCA, NASCAR Trucks and Xfinity series turn both left and right these days, so I need to learn those skills, as well. I’ll be giving it my best every time out this year. It’s time to go racing again.”