There’s no shortage of opportunities to create new dreams in dirt track racing. Each weekend across North America, thousands and thousands of racers aspire to greatness. While the opportunity to dream is not limited, sadly the actual chances for these hopes to come to fruition is.
As the old saying goes, “where there’s a will there’s a way,” and sometimes dreams do indeed come true. For Kyle Strickler, his lifelong dream of competing for a top-notch Dirt Late Model team is now a reality. The Pennsylvania native has been tabbed as the primary driver for Kentucky-based Wells and Sons Motorsports.
Known for his stellar resume in Modifieds, Strickler’s rise to Dirt Late Model competition comes as Eric Wells turns his focus to a new business venture.
“Since 2005, driving a racecar has been my main focus,” Eric Wells commented. “However, I’ve got two kids in school now. They both are super active, so it’s hard for me to be gone racing as much as I used to be.
“In addition, the past year we’ve started to build Wells and Sons Motorsports here in Hazard. We’ve already had a lot of great support from the racing community in this area. I’m having a lot of fun helping others. It also allows me to be home more with my kids. As a result, growing this company for the future is my primary goal moving forward.”
While still selling parts, Wells and Sons Motorsports expanded their operation to offer complete Longhorn Chassis in both the Late Model and Modified divisions. They’ve also teamed with Bruce Nunnally from Brucebilt Performance to be a dealer for his Modifieds.
With these new endeavors on their plate, Eric Wells and his father, David, knew they needed to keep their focus on the business, while bringing in a house-car driver to pilot the team’s entries. This is where Strickler entered the fold.
“We had been taking note of the incredible things Kyle had been doing in a Modified. I mean the guy has won pretty much every major Modified event out there the past few years,” Eric Wells said. “It also caught our attention, when he won the Gumbo Nationals late last year in Gavin Landers’ Super Late Model. When we talked to the guys at Longhorn Chassis about finding a driver for our team, they adamantly recommended Strickler, which just confirmed our selection.”
Strickler’s resume throughout his career, and especially over the past few years, definitely commands attention. The 35-year-old racer already has over 190 wins to his credit. On the win list are triumphs in some of Modified racing’s biggest events.
Coveted victories for Strickler include a pair of IMCA Super Nationals titles, a $20,000 Race For Hope 74 win, two World Short Track Championships at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, a pair of Gator Championships at Volusia Speedway Park and a $50,000 Modified Super Weekend conquest at Farley Speedway.
For Strickler, the call from the Wells family, was a dream come true.
“I moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 2016 with hopes of progressing into a major Dirt Late Model ride,” Strickler explained. “Needless to say, the progression was far slower than I had hoped. I had a few opportunities here and there, but nothing really gave me a legitimate shot at performing at the top level.
“This deal with Wells and Sons Motorsports offers me everything I could ever dream of. From having the opportunity to continue to compete in major Modified events, to allowing me to enter the biggest Super Late Model events, I’ve got it all with their team.”
Strickler is quick to credit a generous gesture from Lance Landers late in 2018 for likely setting this entire process in motion.
“I had just won the $20,000 check in the second annual Race For Hope 74 at Batesville Motor Speedway last September, and I was sitting around talking with Lance Landers,” Strickler recollected. “I joked that I wished he’d let me drive one of his Super Late Models one night. He said ‘Why don’t you go run my son Gavin’s car at Greenville Speedway next week in the Gumbo Nationals.’ I, of course, jumped at the chance. Less than a week later, in just my second Super Late Model start, I won the $8,000 top prize against a pretty stacked field.
“I can’t thank Lance Landers and Gavin Landers enough because I honestly believe their generosity is what allowed me to get to where I am today.”
For 2019, Strickler will split time between the team’s Super Late Model and Modified entries as the primary driver. When his schedule allows, Eric Wells will enter various races as well.
“Having Kyle as part of our team brings a wealth of Modified knowledge to Wells and Sons Motorsports. We’ll be able to share this with our customers to help them perform at the top level,” Eric Wells continued. “Meanwhile, Kyle will get the opportunity to compete regularly in a top-notch Super Late Model. This is a win-win for all parties involved.”
Strickler echoed Wells’ sentiments.
“This is truly a dream scenario,” Strickler said. “Getting to finally enter events like the Dirt Late Model Dream, World 100, and Dirt Track World Championship has me so excited. I’m going to hit as many Super Late Model events as possible, but I’ll still be running a lot of high-profile Modified races. It’s going to be a hit-and-miss schedule. Each week, I’ll be racing wherever makes the most sense for Wells and Sons Motorsports’ business goals.”
When asked, which race he’s most excited to enter, Strickler answered without hesitation.
“It’s the Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in June,” Strickler quipped. “I’ve won races there in a Modified, but I’ve always dreamed of competing there in a Super Late Model. Now this dream is about to become a reality.”
While Strickler has high expectations of himself, he’s realistic this season will present a learning curve in the Super Late Model.
“I feel like I’ve got a good feel on the handle of a Super Late Model, but knowing which adjustments need to be made is going to be a new challenge,” Strickler noted. “In the Modified, I know exactly what needs to be done at any time, but in the Super Late Model it obviously needs different tweaks. The tires in-themselves are a totally different game. However, with the expertise of the Wells’ family I know I can learn the ropes fairly quick.”
In the Modified ranks, Strickler will utilize both a Longhorn Chassis and a Brucebilt race car. The Super Late Model competition finds the team drivers competing in the Longhorn Chassis.
While they are still finalizing when their first race will be, the team hopes to do some testing in the next week. Strickler is eager to get things going.
“I just can’t stress enough how excited I am,” Strickler said. “I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime, and I fully intend to do everything within my power to capitalize on it.”