Event titles within the division were shared, no one rider came in and swept, but McCullah and rival racer Ben Brown were the two who waged war to the very end. They faced one another in three final rounds over the course of the season with Brown reigning in two of their matches, but McCullah had the advantage in overall round-wins and scored the title by 11 points.
Last season, McCullah had the advantage when the last Lucas Oil Series race on the schedule came up. The event was the Division 7 closer at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and since Las Vegas was a fair distance from his home in Houston, McCullah crossed his fingers and stayed put while Brown traveled West to try to make up the small deficit.
"I thought I'd take a chance," said McCullah. "Ben was at a disadvantage - they don't allow electronics in our class there - and he had to go out and do something he wasn't familiar with. I got lucky because he lost first round."
McCullah continues to ride daily (weather permitting), even when not at the track, and he has upgraded to a '96 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and also has a few Suzuki street bikes that he takes out for fun.
At the track, he commands a Suzuki with a Pro Mod track chassis and a 1570cc GS motor built by Jerry Pomilla of JP Race Engines. The powerplant clears what McCullah says is "somewhere between 280 and 300 horse." Impressive, especially when you learn that he has over 300 laps on it. He typically swaps a motor between 150 and 175 passes, but 2009 was not a typical season. McCullah took half the year off from racing, the swap didn't happen, and the outcome was exceptional.
McCullah's sister Brenda chides him a little, but she is an important part of his racing. Though she resides in Ohio, she is crew chief for the Suzuki. She tows McCullah, starts the bike, manages the weather station and predictions, and brings along McCullah's nephew Vince, who cleans the motorcycle and helps load and unload. Vince also helps other South Central racers with their programs, towing and starting for the father/daughter team of Rich and Raegan Gentili and the Bennett family. McCullah's mom, Joyce, has been able to make it to a few races, too.
He values the time with his family and his gal, and McCullah believes that there is a possibility of passing down the racing gene to his nephew Vince, as it was passed down to him. McCullah's father, James Frank McCullah, raced as well.
His father passed away in 1986, and around that time McCullah took up racing door cars and has been hitting the track ever since. His last car was a Jerry Bickel Camaro that was built originally for Pro Stock. He enjoyed success bracket racing in the Camaro, but he traded in four wheels for two in 2004 after helping a friend with his motorcycle at a race.
"I said, well, I'm going to try that," said McCullah. "I looked for a bike, found one, and won the very first two races we went to. We finished second that year."
In addition to owning McCullah's Paint and Body - a small shop behind his house - McCullah recently took possession of another business that Karen is taking the reins on, McCullah's Ugly Signs, a vinyl sign shop that will deal in business cards, T-shirts, banners, vinyl lettering and numbers for cars and trailers.
McCullah would like to launch a contingency program for the motorcycle class and is working to come up with a plan to offer a bonus for racers who ride with his company's decal on their bike and accomplish a specific feat, such as best package or winner of the event. He hopes to enlist the help of other local businesses as well, like Houston's AJ Foyt Kawasaki, Bob Lunsford Harley-Davidson, Mancuso Harley-Davidson, Smiley's Racing Products or Cycle Gear.
"It would be great to wrap two of them up back-to-back, but I haven't seen that too often," said McCullah. "In fact, I'm not even sure that's been done before. We would sure like to be the ones to do it."
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