Notes: Natural Bridge champ, 12, branching out
After capturing the 2016 Limited Late Model track championship at Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway, Carder Miller of Salem, Va., is already looking ahead to bigger and better things in 2017, starting with his Super Late Model debut at Dec. 31’s Hangover 40 at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn.
Miller, who is nearly a decade younger than most of his competitors at just 12 years old, clinched the Natural Bridge title in just his first season behind the wheel of a full-fender car. He picked up four wins on his 2016 campaign, finishing every race he started and running just one spot outside of the top-10 at 411.
“This car … I had a MBH at the beginning of the season and it was on and off with the racing,” Miller said. “But once I got in the XR1 Rocket, it was good every time we went out.”
Miller works closely with veteran driver Russell Erwin of Beaverdam, Va., crediting him with much of his 2016 success.
“It’s kind of unbelievable because I have one of the best of the best telling me how to do it,” Miller said. “He’s been teaching me and I think one day I’m going to be able to get up there and hang with him.”
Erwin has enjoyed watching Miller grow as a Late Model competitor. Racing at different tracks, the two are able to bounce information back and forth and improve both of their racing programs.
“I didn’t see him winning a race this year,” Erwin said looking back. “I said, ‘Man, if you’re running consistently top-fives at the end of the year, that’s my goal for you.’ Steel block racing in Virginia and North Carolina is really, really stout. All the good guys are all in them steel block cars. I really didn’t see him winning a race and his first race in it he won. It definitely says a lot about him as a driver. It’s been great watching him grow all year.”
Following his Super Late Model debut, Miller and team made the decision to chase the 2016 Iron-Man Championship Series. The teen driver also hopes to enter a few national touring series events.
“Ever since I got in to it, I kind of looked up to the big guys that were racing,” Miller said. “I want to be one of them, so I’m going to see what I can do.” — Alli Collis
FARMER CITY OPENS TICKET SALES: Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway has opened sales of tickets and camping sites for the May 11-12 Farmer City 74, a first-time event with $3,000- and $20,000-to-win events co-sanctioned by the Sunoco American Late Model Series and the MARS DIRTcar Series. Two-day reserved seats are $50 for general admission. Email Gunner Sullivan at email@example.com for ticket and camping requests and visit farmercityracing.com for more ticket information.
ASPHALT BEING REMOVED AT MANSFIELD: New Mansfield (Ohio) Motor Speedway promoter Cody Sommer originally planned to cover the track’s asphalt with dirt, but has since decided to remove the 18-year-old asphalt because of its poor condition, according to a report last week in the Mansfield News Journal. “They've done patching work and different things over the years and it's really deteriorated,” Sommer told the newspaper. “The racing surface has cracks all over it. It's really gotten to the point where it's starting to fall apart. The big fear in putting dirt over top of it is you're going to make a situation that's already bad worse.” Sommer said he was concerned about rocks or asphalt chunks could work through the dirt surface. The track is scheduled to open March 25 with the first of three straight $5,000-to-win Super Late Model races.
SELINSGROVE-PORT ROYAL MINISERIES CONTINUES: Selinsgrove and Port Royal Speedway officials have announced the Moon Shine Camo Route 35 Late Model Challenge Series will return in 2017 with six 25-lap miniseries races, three at each track. Moon Shine Camo sponsors the $3,500 points fund for the races paying $2,000-to-win and $200-to-start. Port Royal’s dates are April 29, July 8 and Sept. 8 while Selinsgrove’s dates are May 20, July 22, and Aug. 12. Jeff Rine won last year’s miniseries, which drew 61 drivers.
LATE MODELS CONTINUING AT CALLAWAY: Callaway Raceway announced last season it was scrapping its weekly Late Model division, but driver Chris Cox of Jefferson City, Mo., and sponsor Fischer Auto Body have helped add 11 Lucas Cattle United Late Model Association events at the Fulton, Mo., track for 2017. Callaway’s dates are scheduled from April 7 through July 15, boosting the ULMA race count to 43 so far. Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., Warrensburg’s Central Missouri Speedway and Randolph County Speedway in Moberly, Mo., are among other tracks hosting ULMA points events from April 7-Sept. 30.
DOG HOLLOW LATE MODEL NEWS: Dog Hollow Speedway in Strongstown, Pa., has named former racer John Eckenrod as tech man for its CARS-sanctioned Crate Late Modl division. Dog Hollow also announced its 2017 rules for its Semi-Late Model division, rules amended to closely mirror specs for the same division at Hummingbird Speedway in Reynoldsville, Pa.
USRA INCREASES LIMITED EVENTS: The USRA-sanctioned Limited Late Model division that has run the past two seasons at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wis., will run at five other tracks in 2017, including previously announced dates at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. Other tracks hosting events are Decorah’s Upper Iowa Speedway, Cresco (Iowa) Speedway and Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie, Wis. Besides weekly events at Mississippi Thunder, 18 other races are scheduled, including at Cresco’s fair race June 22 and Red Cedar’s Punky Manor Challenge of Champions on Sept. 21. USRA plans a points fund encompassing all the sanctioned events, according to Mississippi Thunder’s Bob Timm.
ODDS AND ENDS: Jason Hubbell has taken over as promoter and operations manager at Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn., and Winchester (Tenn.) Raceway Park. … An agreement to sell 191 Speedway that would’ve seen the track reopen in 2017 recently fell through, the track announced on its Facebook page. The Campton, Ky., oval remains for sale. … Modoc (S.C.) Raceway’s special-event only schedule begins with March 17-18’s ninth annual Modoc 100, a $5,000-to-win Crate Late Model event. … Besides its Appalachian Mountain Speedweek date, Williams Grove Speedway near Mechanicsburg, Pa., plans Super Late Model events on March 17, March 24 and Oct. 6. … After dropping weekly WISSOTA-sanctioned Late Models last mid-season, Grand Rapids (Minn.) Speedway plans to run at least seven Late Model events in 2017. … Clinton County Motor Speedway in Mill Hall, Pa., will run Limited Late Models weekly with Super Late Model events on July 21 and Aug. 4. … Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., added 100 truckloads of new clay during the off-season. Late Models can test the surface at a March 25 open practice.