POLAND — While most of the attention in Oxford Plains Speedway’s Street Stock division this year was focused on veteran Billy Childs Jr. and his battle with Bryce Mains for the title, another driver was quietly going about his business a little more under the radar.
For 25-year-old Poland native David Whittier, the 2017 season has been nothing short of amazing. In 19 starts, the seven-year racing veteran has earned two wins, 11 top-five and an impressive 18 top-10 finishes. It’s the kind of consistency that, in most years, would earn a points championship.
“It’s been a combination of several things that brought our performance up to this level,” Whittier said. “My father has really helped me out a lot, plus we got a new engine this year.
“I need to thank to our valued sponsor, Jason Webster, who own’s Chip’s Service Center in Portland, for that engine. It takes reliable horsepower to win races.”
Whittier also says a solid friendship with Mains has proved to be beneficial for both teams.
“Bryce and I have been working closely this year to get both of our cars running better. We’ve shared information as we experiment with setups. It’s helped to gain speed even though our driving styles are different. We both have leaf-spring cars, so our setups are still fairly similar.”
Mains, of Naples, has enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. He’s won seven races and is second in points.
“David and his father have helped me a lot this year,” Mains said. “I do my best to help them as much as possible; they truly are great people. In fact, they actually both came over and helped me put the finishing touches on my car after it got painted.”
Whittier, like so many of his peers, got exposed to racing through his father. Mike Whittier competed in Oxford’s Rebel division from 2000 to 2004, earning two wins in a highly-competitive class. David took an early interest, and soon expressed a desire to get behind the wheel himself.
“We didn’t really get the results we wanted at first,” Whittier said. “It’s always been tough when you start out in a competitive class. There’s a learning curve for everybody, no matter who you are.”
Racing is in the blood not just at the Whittier home, but is spread throughout the entire family. Most locals know about his cousin, Mike Morneau, the Oxford native who now works for Stewart-Haas Racing. Also known as ‘Shrek’ by his good friends, Morneau supports Whittier’s program from behind the scenes.
“Mike actually owns my race car,” Whittier said. “I was actually going to back away from the sport for a while last year, maybe do some other things. We had sold my old car, but one day Mike called me and asked if I would run this current car I’m driving if he bought the chassis.
“I said yes, and now we’ve gotten back to the point where racing is fun again. Everything just came together this year with help, sponsors, the whole package. When the car is fast, when you don’t wreck it badly and can get a couple of wins, that’s when it can really be fun. We’ve had one of those enjoyable seasons.”
After seeing Mains and Childs win most of the features this year, Whittier says the two times he actually beat them (May 27 and July 22) were pretty satisfying. Those two have been fast all year.
“It felt pretty awesome,” he said. “Any time you can beat these guys that are running this class in 2017, you’ve done your homework. We have such a high -caliber field, it’s just crazy. The top six or seven drivers are separated by a few tenths of second. If you’re off just a little, it really shows.”
Behind the scenes at Whittier Racing is a group of key people who made David’s program a reality.
“The first guy I need to thank is my father, who works as hard as anybody I know day and night,” Whittier said. “Without all he does for this team, it wouldn’t exist. I get incredible support from my girlfriend, Heather Coolidge, and I can’t thank her enough. This sport takes time, and she knows it.
“I’m also lucky to have help from my brother, Brian. This is completely a family-supported operation.”
With only the season finale at Oxford on Sept. 9 and a couple of postseason events left to run, Whittier knows the chances to earn another good finish are quickly dwindling.
“I’m hoping we can finish the year with no damage, and hopefully pick up another trophy. It’s been a good season, but it would be nice to cap it off with another win and come back out strong in 2018.”