By Martha Maglone, September 1, 2014
Imagine for a moment you’re in Lincoln, Nebraska and you’re conducting your tax affairs. You’re impressed by your accountant’s prudence, but your eye is confounded by the picture on the wall. It looks like Danny Lasoski’s sprint car at full throttle and, though no expert on the subject, you know this is motor racing at its most visceral. These cars weigh little, generate around 900hp from their Chevrolet V8s and lap 3/8-mile dirt tracks at speeds in excess of 110mph. So you say, “I’d love to speak with the engine builder that prepares power units for a car like this.” Composure unruffled the tax specialist declares, “Actually, you’re speaking to him!” Suddenly your day improves immensely—Jekyll and Hyde is among us!
A father, husband, tax professional, and race engine builder, Mark Burch (48) has been around sprint car racing for 32 years and been building 360 engines since 1999. Adjacent to his home is his race shop where he spends his free time: evenings and weekends.
Is there a common link between the two callings, you wonder? “Numbers,” he bridles. Significantly, it is the contrasts—the uncommon links—where the attraction lies. “Building race engines is so different from working at my desk,” admits Burch with marked pleasure. “In fact, it’s the perfect therapeutic escape, especially during tax season.”
One of Diamond’s most enduring sprint car customers
Three-sixty sprint engines use 23-degree-valve cylinder heads, which present challenges and thus opportunities. “Diamond engineers,” says Burch, “helped me develop my own billet piston. Their initiatives contributed greatly to my engine program. Before switching brands, we were lucky to get six or eight races out of shelf-stock pistons. Now our Diamond billets last two racing seasons—around 24 races. Granted, they cost more but they last three times longer.”
Recently, Mark Burch Motorsports shared the spoils of victory with Danny Lasoski when he won their first two features of the season at the Randolph County Raceway on Saturday, August 30.
“This race track is so wide and fast,” said Lasoski. “It has multiple grooves. When they dropped the green flag we went wherever they weren’t.” Adroitly, he maneuvered from sixth to win the heat race, earning himself a place in the 25-lap main event.
In the subsequent random draw, Lasoski drew number 6 which placed him on the outside of the third row. “We made some good momentum,” he said. “Wayne Johnson put on a pretty good pace. When we got to second we had to work with him. I found a groove up in the cushion and got by.”
Lasoski claimed the lead on Lap 14 en-route to a reassuring victory which, as you’d expect, energized Burch Motorsports as they anticipate the next pair of ASCS Midwest Region events scheduled for the following weekend at Eagle Raceway, near Mark Burch’s shop.
Known for his tour de force on the dirt ovals, Danny Lasoski was propelled to prominence in 1998 when he won the Knoxville Nationals, a feat he would repeat in 2001, ‘03, and again in ‘04. He also won the 2001 World of Outlaws championship. But his supremacy was further underscored when by his deft versatility he won Race Two at the 2004 IROC event at Texas Motor Speedway, defeating NASCAR notables Kevin Harvick, Jimmy Johnson and Ryan Newman. Lasoski also raced in the Canadian IROC series, capturing three wins.
Mark Burch Motorsports
Watch Danny Lasoski in this thrilling preliminary feature of the 360 Knoxville Nationals in 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQvF5SONWHE