Carl Spiering - The Big Dog

By Jim Luikens

Carl Spiering
Carl Spiering from Jordan Station, Ontario is currently the hottest Pro Modified racer on the IHRA national event tour. Not only did he win the P/M title at his "home" track, Toronto Motorsports Park, three weeks ago he also won the Pro Modified Shootout as well as being runner-up at the Martin, Michigan event last weekend. This is the story of Carl "The Big Dog" Spiering, a former factory Ski Doo snowmobile racer who got his professional racing career started on grass courses but received his nickname from a professional wrestling operation.

Jordan Station may be an unusual name for a town but it comes by that name rather honestly. The Jordan station was a stop on the Canadian National Railway and when a town grew up around it what better to call it than Jordan Station? Among its residents today are Carl and Helena (his wife of 18 years) Spiering as well as their two daughters.

Carl originally built a Pro Street 1980 Chevy Malibu that he street raced around the Niagara Falls, Canada area on Sunday nights. At the track his Malibu was capable of 11.90-second elapsed times using a small block Chevrolet engine for power. Carl dreamed of some day building a "9.90" car and running Pro ET but as a young married man he simply didn't have the resources to build one to the level that he desired.

Undaunted, he instead began racing snowmobiles because they were more affordable at the level of professionalism that he aspired to. The success he enjoyed with his 650 cc Polaris did not go unnoticed by The Bombardier Company, manufacturers of Ski Doo snowmobiles. Eventually he was approached by Bombardier's Race Shop Division and offered a factory ride that included two sleds (for two different classes) and full support.

Carl operated his snowmobile racing team for four years with a class win at the New York State Grass Drags being its most notable achievement. The New York event is one of snowmobiling's elite events and a class win there is a significant accomplishment. Carl eventually considered selling his team because snowmobile events are cold and miserable and his first daughter, Lisa, had just arrived on the scene. When one of his team drivers expressed an interest in purchasing his team the deal was done and Carl was on his way back to the asphalt quarter mile.

He found a 1964 Chevy II for sale in Tennessee that was powered by a 468 cid big block engine hooked to a Powerglide transmission and purchased it. After racing it for just half a season he decided that it needed some more go-power because he wanted to run in the "fast" bracket. He began building an all-aluminum 588 cid big block that was injected on alcohol and the motor transfusion worked well. The car's performance level jumped into the 8.50 range at around 165 miles per hour.

When new chassis regulations came into being Carl's Chevy II wouldn't certify because its chassis had been built to earlier specifications. Eddie Brych of the Chassis Shop in Toronto built him a new chassis that he ran for the next two seasons. Although Carl typically ran pretty well during this period he didn't record any particularly notable wins.

Noticing the growth and respect that Top Sportsman was attracting at this time, Carl decided to advance his career and build a T/S car. Joe Van Overbeek of London, Ontario was selected as the chassis builder and a new Camaro was chosen as the body style. After taking all of 1994 and the first half of 1995 to complete the car it debuted in mid-1995. A blown 540 cid big block, Carl's first supercharged engine, and a Bruno/Lenco made up the power train.

Later that year Carl traveled to Bristol, Tennessee for the IHRA Fall Nationals. This was the first national event that he had ever competed in and he qualified with an impressive 7.31-second elapsed time. When rain delayed the event until the next weekend Carl chose to stay over and was rewarded with a third round finish. His second daughter, Monica, also came along about this time also and all was right with Carl's world.

Carl raced the Camaro again throughout 1996 season before selling it to Bruce Boland. A new dream was taking shape in this mind, to race Pro Modified, and he knew that he would need much greater financial resources if he was to make this dream a reality. To begin working towards his new dream he started the business that he runs to this day, The Trailer Shop. He also accepted an offer from fellow Canadian racer Barry Paton to spend a year working on Barry's team to learn clutch maintenance.

At the 1996 World Nationals Carl was impressed by a 1937 Chevrolet that was being raced by Tennessee's Bob Mandel. Carl purchased the car at the end of that year and powered it with a 632 cid Dart Big Chief engine on nitrous. For a transmission he used the Bruno from his old Camaro. Along with some testing at Cayuga he ran the full season at Grand Bend in Top Sportsman. He won four events there and was the 1998 Grand Bend season champion.

His championship brought him to the attention of Buffalo's Persico Brothers who asked Carl to drive their car in 1999 that was powered by a 706 cid Eagle engine on nitrous. Despite a good effort and good parts the team did poorly. For 2000 the team changed to blown 526 cid Chevy engine and that made all the difference in the world.

The 2000 season was also Carl's first year of sponsorship by Extreme Championship Wrestling. It was Extreme that gave Carl his "Big Dog" nickname, something that is very common in the world of wrestling. The racing team did well locally but had little to show nationally for 2000 besides qualifying number two at Carl's old stomping grounds, Grand Bend.

Assessing his future, Carl decided to order his own Pro Modified, a '57 Chevrolet Bel Air from Kitchener's Low Down Hot Rods. Low Down is most famous for the '37 Chevy that they built for Canada's Gary Irving. Carl's Bel Air got off to a flying start, winning at Budds Creek to give Carl his first national event win.

After a strong season but no wins in 2003, Carl jumped at the chance to purchase Tim McAmis' personal 1963 Corvette Pro Modified at the end of the 2003 season. Carl struggled early in 2004 but a session on Al Billes' dyno really woke his Corvette's engine up and the second half of the year went much better. This past winter Carl put the last piece of the puzzle together when he purchased a 3000 horsepower DTS dyno and created his own engine department. His recent win at Toronto verifies that he is on the right track.

Carl appreciates the great relationship and strong support that he receives from his major sponsor, Eaton Cutler Hammer. At Toronto he entertained over 1000 Cutler Hammer guests and no doubt thrilled them all with his win. He also has the strong support of his wife and daughters. In fact, both of his daughters race Jr. Dragsters very successfully as another generation of racing Spierings is being developed.

With a winning race team, a supportive family, a great sponsor and a successful business this is a great time to be Carl Spiering. Who could have envisioned any of this back when he was racing snowmobiles on the grass?