Caution … for some disagreeable photos

Hello, blog followers … long time, no update, huh?

We’ve been busy trying to get the issues out on a regular basis and dealing with family commitments (nothing to worry about, folks; thanks for your momentary concerns), so sometimes updating this blog falls down the list of priorities. Let’s attempt to rectify that.

In the latest issue of LMD, released to subscribers over the weekend, there were six photos which didn’t come through all that well. Technology can be fickle, can’t it? Anyway, here they are, with the captions and page numbers on which they appeared. We apologize for the imaging errors.

Enjoy your summer, racers and fans!

Shouting out to crews

We all know that racing is a team sport. The crews are most important, whether their major contributions come on race days, in the shop between races, or both.

Some of our favorite stories in LMD focus on crew chiefs and other wrench-turners and/or their relationships with their drivers. Looking deeper at the chemistry between, say, Connor Okrzesik and Mike Garvey, Derek Griffith and Louie Mechalides, or Gabe Sommers and Travis Sauter, adds to regular race stories that you’ll see on the screen/in the pages of LMD. And once in a while there’ll be a successful driver who has become his own crew chief, such as Indiana star Jack Dossey III (featured in the issue following the Rattler weekend, and again in the next issue after his win in the ARCA/CRA Super Series season opener at Anderson Speedway).

Look for more of these types of articles in future editions of LMD. In the meantime, check out this clip of two of Lee Pulliam’s crewmen watching their driver clear Josh Berry for the lead en route to $30,000 in Sunday’s CARS Late Model Stock Tour race at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont NC.

Best wishes for a great season!

Post-Speedweeks bonus

Hello and happy almost-spring,

The latest issue of Late Model Digest, featuring the coverage from the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, has been released. It will be made free for everyone; just contact us through this website or the LMD Facebook page and we’ll zip it to you. All subscriptions will be extended by two weeks.

It’s possible that the scenes at Speedweeks can’t be properly shown in just 32 pages. Here are some extra looks at the New Smyrna festivities; click on the photos for descriptions and credits.

Enjoy the upcoming season, everyone!

Racing season’s unofficial start

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Hello again, and Happy New Year again!

Late January brought the first major events of the pavement Late Model racing season: CRA SpeedFest in Cordele GA (co-headlined by the pictured Pro Late Model battle between #18 Casey Roderick and #71 Dawson Fletcher) and the Chilly Willy 150 weekend in Tucson AZ. Then the first weekend of February contained the SRL Winter Showdown in Bakersfield CA and the Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach SC. Of course there’s always action in the Sunshine State, where they really don’t know the meaning of an off-season.

The first 2019 issue of LMD meant a few pages worth of bonus stories and items, where we tried to give some racers across North America some extra coverage even though they didn’t win races in 2018, plus our annual track listing with any available scheduling and other pertinent information at a glance. But even though we enjoy doing them and they’re an integral part of our off-season, they could be construed as filler stories because there isn’t much going on.

Beginning with the next issue, to be completed this Thursday, the majority of the pages will be filled with the type of coverage you’re used to seeing in LMD, plus some short features to accompany much of this coverage. It’s what LMD has been doing since 1989, what I’ve been doing since 2000, and what has been in a digital page-flipping format since last summer. We’ll still have the regular features such as Catchin’ Up, Meet, Checkered Flag and occasionally a Sponsor Spotlight, but the bulk of the articles will be focused on what’s happening, how it happened and more about the people making it happen.

Thanks for your continued support. Have an enjoyable and safe season!

In case the Snowball Derby is still on your mind …

Hello and Happy New Year!

The first LMD issue of 2019 will be finished two weeks from now. In the meantime, check out a few extra photos from the 51st annual Snowball Derby December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola FL. Thanks to our contributors Buddy Bryan, Kim Kemperman and David Kranak.

Champions’ Advantage

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(Dale Nottestad, newly-crowned champion at Jefferson WI; Mark Melchiori/ mdmracepix.com)

It’s November, and that means there are two issues of Late Model Digest left in the season (after the one we have just released). That also means there will be plenty of track and touring series champions who will be profiled in those last two issues, set to be finished November 15 and December 7.

We realize that our coverage is often geared toward touring action, but this is our chance to tilt the scales the other way. A couple of those track champions are featured in the latest issue, because their stories went along with coverage of the Fall Finale at New London-Waterford Speedbowl and the Senator’s Cup Fall Classic at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Look for at least a dozen more in the next issue, and one will be about the youngest-ever Late Model champion at a facility in Florida.

We’re always welcome to story suggestions, whether they’re about champions or those a bit deeper in the field or outside the box; contact us through this website or our Facebook page.

Thank you for your continued support!

Two for 400, 21 years ago

Right behind the Snowball Derby on the list of the most prestigious and historic Super Late Model races each fall are the Winchester 400 at the half-mile in eastern Indiana (see Page 8) and the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn. (set for Nov. 3-4). And those are the only two 400-lap events scheduled for Late Models in 2018.

It’s hard to believe that 21 years ago there were a pair of 400s on the same day. On Oct. 19, 1997, the 17th edition of the All-American extravaganza was held at the Fairgrounds track, then called Nashville Speedway USA; it wrapped up that year’s NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series. A full day’s drive east on Interstate 40 sat the track now known as Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., home of that day’s season finale of the American Speed Association ACDelco Challenge Series.

ASA changed its cars from straight Late Models a few years earlier, so the two extended-distance shows weren’t drawing completely from the same pool of racers. But there were a few star drivers who probably could have found rides in either event. Another potential conflict was with television channel TNN; the network which was once a major player in motorsports broadcasting aired the North Carolina Sweet Potato 400 live and showed the All-American 400 a week later.

The two 400s were won by two of those series’ most accomplished drivers. Freddie Query made this All-American his first of two straight victories at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds’ signature race. Query, then sponsored by Plemons Insurance and the RaceCar College (which evolved into RaceCar Engineering) didn’t run a full schedule in 1997. The next season he teamed up with sponsor Greased Lightning and won nine times en route to a dominant All Pro championship campaign.

This 400 was Query’s only win of 1997 in the tour which later became NASCAR Southeast and ended after 2006. Query led more than 270 laps on the day, but it took a green-white-checkered finish for him to find the lead at the end.

One time zone to the east came the crowning achievement of Kevin Cywinski’s first ASA championship. The native of Mosinee, Wis., had the title clinched before his Scott LaFavre-owned team arrived at Southern National, and this was his fourth win of the year.

Cywinski took some time away from ASA in 1998-89, driving for Bob Brevak’s team in the then-NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and rejoined LaFavre Racing in 2000. From that point on he ran every ASA race until the series folded after the 2004 year; he won the final two titles in the series which added “National Tour” to its official name near the end. His last recorded start was in 2007, ironically in the inaugural race for the ASA (now ARCA) Midwest Tour.

Both Cywinski, age 53, and Query, at 66, are active in the sport in street clothes and wearing headsets. After hanging up his helmet Cywinski went right into team ownership in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Win-Tron Racing has guided a number of drivers to their first ARCA victories, including James Buescher, Blake Bjorklund, Justin Marks, Matt Merrell and Brandon McReynolds. It’s still a single-car operation based in Mooresville, N.C., in an era where mega-teams are often out front. Gus Dean is the Win-Tron driver this year, and he scored a victory at, ironically, Elko.

The 2007 season was also the last in which Query tasted competition. Most of his racing near the end of his driving career came at Concord Speedway, a few miles from his home. When Concord’s Big 10 restarted for a few years, Query once again took center stage, as he did in the Big 10’s first iteration in the early 1990s.

Query continues imparting his knowledge on the younger generation. In recent years he has guided Dan Leeck to a Jegs CRA All-Stars Tour title and Kyle Benjamin and Harrison Burton to multiple Florida Speedweeks victories, served as crew chief at Snowball Derbies for Dan Fredrickson and 2010 winner Johanna Long, and headed annual winter seminars at Advanced Racing Suspension. His 2018 attention was most often focused on Northwest legend Garrett Evans and his son Jan, and he’ll be with Garrett at this year’s Snowball Derby December 1-2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

For current photos of Query and Cywinski, please see the LMD Facebook page.

We hope you have enjoyed this piece of Late Model history. Contact us for more information on Late Model Digest!