Terry Cook compared his role as a spotter in auto racing to that of an offensive coordinator in football. On the field, an offensive coordinator only sees one perspective. Atop the stadium and in a coaches box, he gains a view of the entire field.
As a spotter for John Wes Townley, a NASCAR and ARCA Racing Series driver, Cook gains a broader perspecaative by working above the track and watching Townley’s every move — and the moves of every driver around Townley.
“The spotter’s job is to aid and assist the driver,” said Cook, a Sylvania native. “That’s the main thing, to keep him out of harm’s way. But I like to add with it, to help him have the best finish we can.”
Cook, a 1986 Northview graduate, was on hand with Townley on Wednesday at Hollywood Casino as the ARCA Racing Series, Toledo Speedway, and Flat Rock Speedway announced their 2016 racing schedules.
ARCA also announced that American Sports Network will broadcast nine ARCA races this season, including five live races, beginning with the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway.
Townley has driven at the NASCAR and ARCA levels since 2008 and will drive in the ARCA Menards 200. As Townley’s spotter, Cook will return to the track where he grew up working on his father’s car, and eventually driving his own race car.
He stepped away from his position as competition director with Red Horse Racing to spend more time with his family, but joined Towanley as a spotter late last season and helped him win the Camping World Truck Series Rhino Liners 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“He’s the eye in the sky,” Townley said of Cook. “He’s telling you what the guys behind you are doing and what the guys in front of you might be doing better, and alerting you when it comes to accidents or things about to happen.”
The relationship continued into this season, and in ARCA’s season opener on February 13 at the Daytona International Speedway, Cook’s guidance helped Townley win the Lucas Oil 200.
Cook also brings the perspective of a driver; he not only raced at Toledo Speedway and at tracks across the Midwest, but also drove in 344 NASCAR events, including 314 Truck Series races.
“John listens to what you tell him, and then he learns how to apply it,” Cook said. “From a spotter’s perspective and helping him try to find different racing lines, how to communicate back to the crew chief what he’s feeling in the vehicle, he’s just a sponge. With John, you’ve just got to explain it one time, and he’s got it.”
Townley plans to drive 24 Camping World Truck races, between three and five Xfinity Series races and 17 ARCA races this year. He’ll drive this weekend in the Truck Series’ Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, then plans to rejoin the ARCA series at the Music City 200 April 9 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville.
“I’ve learned a lot from Terry,” said Townley, who drives for Athenian Motorsports. “I had a little bit of experience already, but as a spotter, Terry’s shown me how to break things down and apply it better on a race track. And I’ve learned to do things, especially at Daytona, like drafting. And I’ve made a lot of progress.”