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story.lead_photo.caption David Burlingame works on Tyler Blank's winged sprint car Sunday at Double-X Speedway. Photo by Submitted

On an average Sunday night at Double-X Speedway, you probably won't hear David Burlingame's name called over the speakers, and you likely won't see him standing on a car holding a trophy at the end of the night. However, he's been a fixture there in recent years.
A California native, Burlingame essentially grew up at the racetrack. For 13 years now, he's worked in the pit crew for local sprint car driver Tyler Blank. Burlingame and Blank grew up together, and racing was always a common interest. Only it wasn't always sprint cars.
After both got into racing RC cars competitively at a young age, they later moved to go-carts. While Blank continued driving, eventually moving to sprint cars, Burlingame took his expertise into the pit, where he's helped win championships at Double-X as part of Blank's team.
"There's an excitement and thrill to it," Burlingame said. "Even being a crew member, you get to experience a lot of the emotion that the driver feels. When you're having a good night, you're on top of the world. Bad nights bring you down and make you appreciate the good nights more."
The crew on Blank's No. 75 car truly is a team. Aside from Burlingame, Aaron Chambers, Josh Upton and Kelsey Brauner all have major week-to-week mechanical responsibilities when getting the car ready for race night.
Burlingame's main role in the crew is dealing with the suspension maintenance, but that's far from his only job during race weeks. From tires to shocks to bleeders, the nature of racing sprint cars means not only always having things to work on, but always looking for an edge, as well.
"You have to find those little changes that give a car a little more grip on the track," he said. "The biggest challenge is just finding a competitive advantage for the setup of the car. Figuring out the right combination of tires and shocks and springs is the thing the crew really has to look into and figure out."
The search for a competitive edge reaches its peak during races. While there's no headset communication between crew and driver, hand signals are a way for Blank to best adapt the car to the ever-changing dirt track surface.
When he's not working on Blank's car, Burlingame is usually found at his job at O'Reilly Auto Parts in California. While the jobs keep him doing what he loves, they also keep him extremely busy during race season.
"Basically, working on a race car is like having a second full-time job, especially if you're racing multiple tracks or series," he said.
For Burlingame and the crew, maintenance starts Monday night with work on the motor and suspension. The baseline setup for the car varies depending on which track is being raced for the upcoming weekend.
"It's easy to burn two or three nights at the shop during the week," he said.
Of course, it all builds up to race day, which begins with checking the tires and ends with hustling to the car wash. Such is the pitfall of dirt track racing. There's an inherent uncertainty to cars — racing or not — and Burlingame has seen his share of surprises along the way.
Most recently, the team received a positive surprise in Moberly. After entering the race with what the crew believed was a subpar motor, Blank pulled out a third-place finish at the track.
"After the race, we were all excited because never in our wildest dreams did we expect to finish in a podium position," Burlingame said. "We just expected to go up there and make a few laps and get some points. So that was a pretty good night."
But not all surprises are good, and for Burlingame and the crew, some of that trouble has been caused by a faulty motor. After the crank shaft blew out on the car's good motor during the first race of the year, the No. 75 team has had to grind through on a backup motor for much of the season.
Blank and the crew are currently second in the Double-X winged sprint car standings behind Jonathan Cornell. With only one race left in the season, they're unlikely to overtake Cornell. However, they currently sit sixth in the ASCS Warrior Region point standings, and if the motor comes back in time, Burlingame believes they can make a charge for a top-three spot in the ASCS standings.
"Once we get it back, we feel like we'll be on a playing field with everybody else," he said. "Hopefully we can utilize the extra power and end the season strong. It's just one small thing that put us behind the eight ball."
Like any team, morale can be impacted when the bad breaks come, and that's no different in racing.
"Morale is a big thing in racing because if everybody is kind of down in the dumps, you go to the track and you're not going to do well," Burlingame said. "Getting the morale of the whole team to where everybody's excited to come to the shop is big, and it definitely helps out the driver to get his confidence back up."
With action at Double-X soon wrapping up, Burlingame, Blank and the rest of the crew will be racing the remainder of the summer at places like Fulton, Moberly and Wheatland. But everyone prefers their hometown track, and for the No. 75 crew, that's California. For them, it's never too early to start looking forward to the 2017 season at the dirt quarter-mile off U.S. 50.
"Tyler's always supported California because it's the home track," Burlingame said. "It's a track his dad and a lot of his friends can go to and watch. We've always been really supportive of Double-X, and we enjoy racing there."

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