Mike Neff · Thursday May 16, 2013
There has been a lot of talk about underdog teams thanks to David Ragan’s victory at Talladega two weeks ago. One of the smallest of underdog teams has had a hand in launching several NASCAR careers. The Mittler Brothers are most well known for giving Carl Edwards his first ride in the Truck Series. They’ve also put the likes of Rusty Wallace, Justin Allgaier, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray and Mike Wallace behind the wheel of their trucks. They’ve never won a race; in fact, Edwards gave them their only top-10 finish in 157 career races. They are simply an old school group of racers who spend a large amount of their time doing machining and fabricating for other teams in the garage.
This week, Mike Mittler was at Millbridge Speedway on Wednesday night to check out the action. While he was in town and he took the time to sit down with Frontstretch to talk about being a small team, the size of their “fleet” and what their plans are for the near future.
Mike Neff: You’re in town this week during the All-Star weekend. What brings you to the Charlotte area this weekend?
Mike Mittler: We’re doing a little work here while we’re in town. We started up one of our pull-down rigs for Brad Keselowski today and we’re just seeing some of our customers. Taking care of them, seeing what the racers needs are and learning what it takes to help racers go faster.
Neff: When is the next time we’re going to see a Mittler Brothers truck at the race track?
Mittler: We’re going to run at Texas Motor Speedway in a couple of weeks. That is a place that we kind of love and hate. We’re hopefully going to come away loving that place this time.
Neff: You’re a smaller team that doesn’t get to run the full schedule. How many trucks do you have in your “fleet”?
Mittler: Right now, as a matter of fact, we looked at it last night before I left town. Right now we’re on the verge of having four trucks ready to race. That would include our Daytona truck, which of course is a special piece. We have a really nice mile and a half Chevy that we ran at Kansas with Justin Jennings. We ran really well all day and finished 18th with him. We’re building a truck for El Dora. We’re rebuilding the truck that we ran at Iowa last year to try and make it a little bit better. So, right now we have four trucks that are in pretty good shape.
Neff: For Eldora, who do you think you’re going to have behind the wheel?
Mittler: (Laughs) Well, that is an interesting story. Nick Hoffman has been running really well there on that dirt. He’s been running really well on dirt and we really like him a lot. We ran him a couple of years ago in a truck and he did a phenomenal job. He’s gotten us infected with that dirt racing so we’re trying to get something worked out for Nick to see what we can make happen there.
Neff: From an overall equipment perspective. A lot of teams have tons of engines and trucks. You say you have four trucks, how many engines do you have for those four trucks?
Mittler: At any given moment we’re lucky that we have one. We do have a couple of Ford engines that we’ve built and maintain over the years ourselves. Our former driver, Carl Edwards, was nice enough to set us up with a Roush engine a year or two ago that we’ve been keeping up and maintaining. We’ve got a couple other Fords and then the Chevy engines we’re on a rental program with our friends at Pro Motor.
Neff: Where do you base your racing operations out of?
Mittler: Our race shop is in the hub of racing, Foristell, Missouri. Which is just a little bit west of St. Louis which is why we tend to pick on those Midwest races a little bit.
Neff: How much do you miss going to IRP since they don’t run the Trucks there anymore?
Mittler: Well, of course with all of the history at IRP, we ran there years and years ago in the old ASA days with Rusty. We ran there many times. It was the first track we took Nick Hoffman to. We were standing in the tech line and here comes Eli Gold behind our back. He says “Hey Nick, I’m Eli Gold.” You didn’t even have to turn around, knowing that voice. It is a great facility and all of the history there with all of the years. Hopefully, one of these days, they’ll work it out so we can go back there.
Neff: One last question. What will it take to get the Mittler Brothers to run the full Truck schedule?
Mittler: As you know, it is all about the money. The one thing I said, when I started this thing in 1995 is that I would not let it bankrupt me. I’ve done a lot of things that I should not have done, to keep racing. Everything they tell you not to do I’ve done, because I’ve been infected with it pretty bad. One of these days, when the right deal comes along, we’ll do them all.
The Mittler Brothers have been running since the early 90s. While they haven’t been as successful as the other minor league teams, they have always remained fiercely independent and are not going to change that.
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