The NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series, along with the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series, have become standards in the industry. We had a chance to speak with Mike Vaughn, series CEO and Founder, and ask him some questions about his multiple Crate racing series.
CI: For those who may not be familiar, what are the basics of your series? (Car type, surface, engine, region)
MV: Dirt Late Models utilizing the GM Performance 602 and 604 Crate engines; Street Stock division using the 602 GM Crate engine; and Dirt Late Models utilizing the LS based Chevrolet Performance CT525 engine. All three divisions are based at dirt tracks throughout the Southeastern United States and expanding with tracks in Texas, Missouri, and Kansas.
CI: Tell us how you came to found the NeSmith Dirt Late Model (Crate Racin’ USA) series?
MV: I was a car owner for many years who was tired of paying the prices of Steelhead and Open Competition motors. I was fixing to find another hobby when the late Mike Swims from the Dixie Speedway family asked me about running a GM Performance crate engine. After installing one and seeing immediate success I knew that there were other owners/drivers that needed to find a better alternative to continue doing what we loved to do. After almost a year of trying to get other people in the industry to start a division utilizing only the GM crate engine, I reached in my pocket and backed the first year of the Crate Racin’ USA series hoping that others would see the benefits of the affordable engines like I did.
CI: How do your rules align with other similar series?
MV: We were the first series to utilize JUST the GM Performance crate engines. I feel like we set the standard for what the rules are across the country. Even tracks and events not sanctioned utilize our rules for their events.
CI: What has been the biggest challenge?
MV: In the beginning, taking a chance on branching out and doing a crate series without major sponsorship.
CI: What is the one thing that people misunderstand the most about your role as the Series Director?
MV: The behind the scenes work that goes into establishing a reputable organization. Scheduling, staffing, and race day operations are just a few of the many areas that must be attended to in order to provide fans, tracks, and drivers with the best racing experience possible.
CI: What is your view/opinion of the future of Crate Racing?
MV: I believe that based on the economics, crate racing will be a viable option for competitors for years to come.