Roan Mountain's Freeman looking forward to Thunder Valley

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 8, 2018 at 7:29 PM

Tim Freeman won't know until Monday what his role will be at the upcoming NHRA Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Will it be his normal duties as assistant crew chief for KB Racing or will he also be back behind the wheel of a Summit Racing Camaro as he was last week in Chicago? Either way, he has one goal in mind, to be part of the winning team.

"Being from Roan Mountain, this is the race of the year for me," Freeman said Wednesday during a test session at Bristol Dragway. "I want to win here bad."

The commitment was evident Wednesday as Freeman explained what the team had to do just to come to Bristol for a test with KB drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line — and with defending Pro Stock world champion Bo Butner, who has a technical alliance with the KB team.

"We got home Monday about 3 o'clock from Chicago," he said. "We got everything ready Tuesday to come here Wednesday. Then, we head to Richmond (for this weekend's NHRA Virginia Nationals)."


Freeman still lives in Roan Mountain and will drive to the team's Mooresville, N.C., shop to work on the cars. He doesn't have to be there every day as everyone on the team, including the drivers, chips in to help. It's certainly not a deal like NASCAR, IndyCar or Formula One, where the driver simply shows up to race.

For example, Line was given the responsibility of tuning five different cars the weekend in which Freeman raced. That work often hurts his own fortunes as a driver, with Anderson, Butner or Deric Kramer often providing his stiffest competition.

"Jason treats them all the same," Freeman said. "We want everyone who runs KB power to win. Bo won it last year and Deric Kramer won a race at Topeka this year. We don't cut any corners. We give them every bit as good stuff as we've got."

The same holds true for Freeman, who does the maintenance work on Line's engine. After qualifying 13th at Chicago, Freeman lost to Line in the opening round of eliminations. Also on race weekends, Freeman is the one who brings Butner up to the starting line for his runs, and he works with the track specialist from General Motors, indirectly working with John Force's Funny Car team.


Last weekend was different.

It was the first time in over a decade that Freeman was behind the wheel at a national event. Back in the early 1990s, Freeman raced in the Competition Eliminator class and he was a winner at St. Louis in the old Pro Stock Truck category in 1998. He also reached the final round at two other events.

In recent years, he has been heavily involved locally in the DER Bracket Series at Bristol Dragway, where his children, Garrett and Gracie, have raced Junior Dragsters. Gracie also plays for the Cloudland girls' basketball and softball teams, while Garrett is getting a true behind-the-scenes look at racing from his father's view.

"My son, Garrett, is going to the next couple of races, helping out on Bo's car a little bit," Freeman said. "My daughter, Gracie, will also be at the Bristol race, even though she's at basketball camp now. They and even my wife, Chrystal, we all love it and are race-involved for sure."

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