Dean Gokel’s lifetime goal was to someday get into auto racing but he never imagined chemistry would be his ticket to a racing career. Gokel was a chemistry major at North Carolina State and his knowledge of fuel and love for racing would come together at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I always wanted to own a race car,” said Gokel who eventually bought a Late Model and raced at Hickory in the 90s. While living his dream as a car owner, the reality of a serious career would prove to be his technical expertise rather than driving.
“Dale Earnhardt used to call me Mr. Scientist,” claimed Gokel who as a chemistry major was somewhat of a fuel expert. When the Labonte racing team kept blowing up engines at Charlotte, Gokel asked if he could investigate. “I tested their fuel and discovered the mixture was burning up their pistons.” Suffice it to say the doors to a tech career opened and Gokel began working with NASCAR and big names like the Joes Gibbs Racing team on fuel, engines, coolants, tires, indeed everything and anything concerning race cars.
Gokel is now the Chief of Technical Inspection at Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway and he along with track owner Bob Lowery and Director of Competition, Ben Kilcrease, recently held a drivers meeting to hear concerns and comments heading into the 2023 season. “We wanted to hear from the drivers, we let them speak and we listened,” said Gokel.
“Safety and fairness is the goal for 2023,” boasts Gokel. Two of the most obvious changes for 2023 will be a new spotters tower and a new backstretch pit entry onto the track returning turn 2 to its original design creating more passing opportunities and better racing flow. (read about that here)
Gokel’s goal is to make things better within the rules, close loopholes and give everyone a chance to win regardless of budget and without sacrificing innovation. Another plus would be an increase in car counts. “When everyone has a chance to win, when the fairness is across the board, more drivers will compete,” promises Gokel.
Gokel and his new assistant Mikel Pensanpe attended the recent Media Day, once again meeting with and listening to drivers and team members as the excitement builds for the season opener the “Solid Rock Carriers Jumpstart 165” on April 2nd, Green Flag at 2 pm. Remember, you can still save money with a season pass for 2023. For details and information on the 2023 season go to carteretspeedway.com.