Drag Illustrated Issue 179, November / December 2022 - Page 118



■ DAMON COLE was just six weeks old when he first attended a race at Sikeston Raceway with his parents , Dave and Jill , and his cousin , veteran small-tire racer Mark “ Woody ” Woodruff . Woody ended up winning the race , and Cole didn ’ t know it yet , but he ’ d go on to be a part of many more winner ’ s circle photos with Woodruff and other racers who run transmissions from Mark Micke ’ s M & M Transmission , where Cole has worked since 2018 .
It wasn ’ t Woodruff who got Cole a job with Micke , but a technical college instructor , Chris Cox , who worked with Micke when the shop still focused on everyday transmissions . When Micke asked Cox if there were students in his high-performance program who might be a good fit for the transmission shop , Cox said “ No , not really , but there ’ s this kid named Damon . He was just at a drag race that you were just at too .” The race was Donald Long ’ s Lights Out at South Georgia Motorsports Park . Micke reached out to Woodruff as a reference and soon offered Cole a job .
“ I started out taking apart stock case 400s , just learning what was inside of them , how they went together , how they would come apart ,” Cole , 26 , says . “ Did that for about two or three months while sandblasting and sweeping the floors . It was just learning the repetitiveness of taking it apart , seeing if I could see what was wrong . After I learned all the machining of the parts , I started putting them back together . Now I freshen Turbo 400s and Powerglides here and there . I also do the rear ends at the shop while machining all the parts . After hours , I ’ ll work on the race car and drive the truck to and from the races .”
Cole also travels to around 15-20 events per year , whether he ’ s racing with Micke or just providing customer support at PDRA , MWDRS , NHRA Pro Mod , and major radial races . When he ’ s at those races , he works with some of the brightest tuners in the industry , bouncing ideas off them while providing manufacturer support .
“ All the Pro Line guys work with our stuff and a lot of those guys , when they have a problem , they come over and ask me for my opinion ,” Cole says . “ I ’ ve learned a lot from Jamie Miller , Steve Petty , Josh Ledford , and Lee White . All those guys have really kind of brought me under their wing when I had questions . They provide feedback based on other problems they ’ ve seen . Being able to work with multiple teams has allowed me to help people across the board if I do have a problem .”
Cole also has two solid mentors in Woodruff and Micke , who have different approaches to racing . He grew up going racing with Woody , then he built on that experience by working with
Micke in the transmission shop and on the racing side , first with Jason Carter ’ s iconic twin-turbo Malibu and now with Micke ’ s new ’ 69 Camaro Pro Mod .
“ It ’ s definitely made me appreciate working under somebody that ’ s as smart and has been doing this racing thing as long as [ Micke ] has and turned it into a business ,” Cole says . “ I get the best of both worlds , because you have Mark Woodruff who ’ s here having fun hanging out and racing as a hobby . As I ’ m working with Micke , I am getting the business side .”
While Cole is interested in getting his own race car someday , possibly a 6.0 index car , he ’ s focusing on the behind-the-scenes mechanical aspect of racing for the near future .
“ I think I ’ m going to try to be in this transmission business as long as I can ,” Cole says . “ I ’ ve found a niche and I really enjoy it . I like seeing our product do well or knowing that I ’ ve had my hands in making somebody faster . I like to have my hands into everything , learning it all . To me , drag racing is more of a lifestyle than a job .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
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