Memphis, TN − In 2012, weekly racers are being randomly recognized as the COMP Cams Top Performer of the Month. The winner for April is Oklahoma driver Terry Muskrat.
The latest recipient of the COMP Cams Top Performer honors for April is racing veteran Terry Muskrat, who hails from Stillwell, Oklahoma. With over 29 years of racing experience under his belt, the 50-year-old Muskrat has raced in several different types of hot rods.
Musrkat’s introduction to the sport came in perhaps not the most conventional of ways. Muskrat remembers, “I had just started dating my future wife, Lorie. Her dad, Bill Christie, was a racer, and she talked me into going to the track one night. I was hooked instantly. I just had to try it.”
With the racing fever boiling in his veins, Muskrat soon built his first race car—a Street Stock. He began his racing career around the 1983 season at Crawford County Speedway (Van Buren, Arkansas). As much as he enjoyed watching racing, Muskrat quickly discovered that he loved being behind the steering wheel even more.
“It was more fun than I ever imagined it would be, so needless to say I was hooked instantly,” he laughs.
While Terry might not have found the conventional introduction to the sport, he definitely didn’t have the conventional crew chief, as his wife headed up that chore.
“Of course some guys would kind of pick at me for having a woman as a crew chief,” Muskrat remembers. “However, they all realized pretty quickly that she knew more about cars and setups than they could ever dream. With her setups she definitely made my driving job easier.”
After two years in the Street Stock division and a handful of wins, Muskrat made the move to the Limited Late Model class. He continued to race at Crawford County Speedway and also began to compete at West Siloam Springs Speedway (West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma).
“Moving up another division and competing at two different tracks was definitely a challenge, but it was still a lot of fun,” Muskrat says. “I feel like we were able to progress fairly quickly, and it showed in our results.”
A successful three years in the Limited Late Model class motivated Terry to make the jump into the world of Super Late Model racing in the late 1980s.
“Now making the transition to the Super Late Model division was really an eye-opener,” he says. “These cars were much more powerful than anything I had driven, and the competition level was pretty phenomenal.”
While the Super Late Model arena was a challenge, he still would go on to claim a number of feature wins in the class over a span of several years. His greatest accomplishment came during the Oklahoma Summertime Classic in the early 1990s, when Muskrat scored wins in two of the three events with triumphs at Tri State Speedway (Pocola, Oklahoma) and West Siloam Speedway.
“There were really some tough cars at those shows, and I really felt like I had made it as a serious contender in the area by winning those events,” he explains.
Muskrat enjoyed a successful Super Late Model stint, but by the 2000s the cost for the division had begun to get out of control, and there were not many options to race Super Late Models in his area. As a result, he began to step away from making the sport his primary focus as his daughter, Terrisa, started college.
“It just made sense to reel things back in a little bit. I still had the desire to drive, but sometimes in life there are more important things,” Muskrat notes.
Terry wouldn’t leave the sport altogether, as he began racing again in the Street Stock as well as the Super Stock division, turning his focus to the big events in the area. While he now competes in fewer than ten events a year, he takes part in some major shows with winner’s purses in excess of $10,000.
It was in one of these $10,000-to-win events in 2011 that Muskrat saw his life flash in front of his eyes. During the 2011 edition of the Fall Street Stock Nationals at Oklahoma Sports Park (Ada, Oklahoma), Musrkat was involved in a multi-car accident on the front stretch during which his car burst into flames. As if that wasn’t scary enough, his safety harnesses jammed, and he was unable to get out of the car. Fellow competitor Kip Hughes saw the urgency of the situation and risked his own life to help Muskrat out of the car before he received any burns.
“Kip was definitely the angel looking over my shoulder that night,” Muskrat says. “If not for him I don’t even want to think about how that deal might’ve ended. I’m definitely indebted to him.”
For the 2012 season Terry Muskrat continues to pilot the #64 1978 Camaro/BMS Racing Engine Street Stock in big events throughout his area. He has a solid team behind him, and for Muskrat Motorsports it is a total team effort. Lorie has served as the crew chief on the team for her husband’s entire career and continues to fill that role. Muskrat also has a dedicated crew that keeps his cars in top notch condition. Known as “The Weekend Warrior Team,” the large crew includes Michael, Tiffany, Kailey, Kelsey, Lucas, Ken and Terrisa all lending a helping hand to do whatever needs to be done.
Muskrat says with a smile, “I have so many good people that help me each week. Having my wife, Lorie, and my kids, Michael and Terrisa, always out there to show support means a lot to me. I’m blessed to get to spend that time with my family and friends.”
As the COMP Cams Top Performer for April, Muskrat is receiving a COMP Cams SBC Valve Spring Compressor #5337 ($100 Retail Value), a $100 COMP Cams Product Certificate, and a COMP Cams Racer Pack, which includes a hat, t-shirt, banner, apron and more.
Racers who wish to enter the COMP Cams Top Performer contest should complete the entry form on the forum at www.MidSouthRacing.com. Drivers only need to enter once to be eligible to win each and every month.
(Photos courtesy of Lorie Muskrat)