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Dirt Late Model Chassis Technology: The Drive to be Different

Competition among Dirt Late Model chassis builders is fierce, and as a result we've seen good competition on the track.

Competition among Dirt Late Model chassis builders is fierce, and as a result we’ve seen good competition on the track.

In some forms of motorsports competitors are limited to a handful of chassis choices, and in some extreme cases only a single option.  On the other side of the spectrum is the Dirt Late Model ranks, where there are at least two dozen options with new ones surfacing all the time.  The only limiting factor for competitors is the standard dimensions and safety features.  Apart from this it’s a free-for-all, and I absolutely love it.

Now before I jump too deep into this article, let me issue an explicit disclaimer of my technological ignorance.  While I eat, breath, and sleep racing I know little to nothing about the technical aspects of designing and/or building race cars.  I never have and probably never will.  I know that some people are quick to comment that such and such car is just a copy of such and such car.  These facts I can’t confirm or deny.  However, I will say that at the end of the day it seems to me that just about any invention in our world whether it be racing or not is somewhat of a copy of something else.  After all, we are all influenced and swayed by things we see and experience in our endeavors on this constantly spinning rock.

After all, we are all influenced and swayed by things we see and experience in our endeavors on this constantly spinning rock.

With that disclaimer out the window, let me jump back to the topic at hand.  Even though we are just getting ready to embark on the meat of the 2014 season, we have already seen a bevy of chassis in victory lane between events in Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida.  From the mainstays like Rocket Race Cars, Bloomquist Race Cars, Barry Wright Race Cars, Mastersbilt Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, CJ Rayburn, and GRT Race Cars to the relative new kids on the national scene like Club 29 Chassis, Bob Pierce Race Cars, CVR Race Cars, Longhorn Chassis, Snow Brothers Chassis , MB Customs, Capital Race Cars, and more we have seen multiple chassis in victory lane already this year.

For each of these base chassis there are also various customized versions like Moyer Extreme by Longhorn, GRT by Outlaw,  and the list goes on and on.  Bottom line is that in Dirt Late Model racing there is a never-ending pursuit to out-perform the next guy.  Competitors are always looking for that edge, and they operate in a world that promotes trying new things.

We also operate in a knee-jerk reaction business, where the hottest thing on the market today might be out the window tomorrow.  Similarly the same chassis sitting behind the shop with the garbage cans today might be selling like gangbusters tomorrow.  Winning sells race cars.  Plain and simple.

Maybe it’s not related at all or there could indeed be a direct correlation, but from my viewpoint it seems like we very well could be facing one of the most competitive and exciting seasons that our sport has seen in a very long time.  I honestly believe that a great deal of this excitement and parity is coming from the countless options that racers have in Dirt Late Model racing.

So far this year we’ve seen very few repeat winners, and we’ve seen several first-time winners in big events in the Dirt Late Model world.

Most recently I witnessed Louisiana native, Timothy Culp, in just his fourth event in his new Bob Pierce Race Car, charge to the biggest win of his young career during the 4th Annual Pelican 100 at Ark-La-Tex Speedway (Vivian, Louisiana).  In doing so he outran many of the top regional competitions and even a few national drivers including Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer, Billy Moyer, to get the victory.  His performance as well as his emotion in victory lane ignited the crowd and reminded me of other performances I’ve seen so far this year from drivers like Kyle Bronson (Volusia Speedway Park), RC Whitwell (Tucson International Raceway), Bobby Pierce (East Bay Raceway Park), and a host of others.

Last season Josh Richards led the way driving a Rocket Chassis, but other other chassis builders aren't sitting on their hands.

Last season Josh Richards led the way driving a Rocket Chassis, but other other chassis builders aren’t sitting on their hands.

With more competition and more parity comes more interest for our sport, and that’s something that we definitely need after the past few years which haven’t produced just a ton of wholesale excitement.  When there’s more excitement and anticipation, then there’s more fans in the stands, which allows tracks to have more specials with more money.  I know that I’m stretching things here, but the bottom line is that we all win in this situation.

Some chassis builders probably don’t agree with my sentiments here, especially if they think their respective design is being outright copied and sold.  However, I would have to think that they at least recognize the true beauty of the situation, which is the fact that we live and compete in a sport that promotes competition and individuality.  This isn’t a communist society.  It’s free market at it’s best.

Let the battle to be the best in Dirt Late Model racing rage onward!

To be fair to chassis builders there are times when I too feel that my product or work is being copied or reproduced by someone else for their own personal gain.  And I’ll also admit that on more than one occasion my first reaction is to feel cheated, robbed, or plain and simple … pissed.  However, in just about every situation I fall back on the old saying that “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” and I use that feeling of contempt in the pit of my stomach to work even harder to produce an even better product.  At the end of the day competition drives me to develop and produce a better product to put the other guy in the dust, and I think this is also true across the sport of racing in general.

As an announcer and media member I probably pay much more attention to the chassis brands in the Dirt Late Model world than most people.  However, hopefully this article has piqued the thoughts of some you great fans.  I like to enjoy our sport for all that it’s worth, and I’ve found that sometimes the competition off the track is just as exciting as the competition on it.  Hopefully some of you folks will start to notice the same.  Let the battle to be the best in Dirt Late Model racing rage onward!


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