The news recently broke that Bobby Pierce will join up with Dunn Benson Motorsports to drive Rocket Chassis Dirt Late Models during the 2018 season. The 21-year-old Illinois driver, who has proven to be one of the top regional racers in the country, will be taking on a new challenge in the coming campaign as he moves away from his Midwestern home and his family’s Bob Pierce Race Cars to wheel machines provided by the North Carolina based organization.
The potential for this pairing is extraordinary as this very talented driver who has shown his abilities by winning crown jewel Dirt Late Model events, UMP Summer Nationals titles and competing at a high level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races held at Eldora Speedway joins forces with an organization that has won national touring series races and championships. At the same time, however, there are some questions that remain to be answered. But again, with the talent being brought together on both sides, the answers to those questions may become available in the very near future.
Dunn Benson included in the press release that announced Pierce’s signing that they would be competing in the early season events held in Arizona during the month of January but no other schedule details were revealed. So one key question looming out there is whether or not the team will seek to run one of the two national tours or if they will choose to compete in certain selected events that do not include any particular series.
Fans all over the country know of Pierce’s considerable talents behind the wheel of a race car. No doubt, dirt racing enthusiasts from areas outside the Midwest would love the opportunity to see this driver show off his skills in areas outside his home region on a more regular basis. Adding Pierce’s name to the lineup would provide even more star power to either the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series or the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. The Dunn Benson team has experience at racing in these wars as they have been regulars on the LOLMDS with previous pilot Earl Pearson, Jr.
Whatever type of schedule is chosen, it would seem likely that Pierce will race more often outside of his home area on the dark clay of the Midwest which raises the question of how quickly he can adjust to the more unfamiliar track surfaces he will encounter in the coming campaign. If the racer’s record at crown jewel events serves as any indication, it would seem likely that the adjustment period will be a short one.
Perhaps a bigger question still to be answered is that of the learning curve for a new type of Late Model chassis. As pointed out earlier, the press release sent out by Dunn Benson Motorsports states that the team has selected the Rocket XR1 as its chassis of choice. Pierce has very effectively driven his family’s Bob Pierce Race Cars machines to this point in his career. This, however, seems to be an adjustment that can be made in relatively ‘smooth’ fashion as we frequently see drivers move from one chassis brand to another and have almost immediate success. Further, the Rocket Chassis proved its abilities in 2017 by winning both national touring series championships.
If Pierce can seamlessly make the much more varied switch from a Dirt Late Model to a NASCAR truck he can almost certainly transition from a Bob Pierce Race Car to a Rocket Chassis.
According to the press release, the driver known as the ‘Smooth Operater’ will relocate to North Carolina and help maintain the Dunn Benson cars alongside a car chief. However, Pierce’s father(Bob Pierce) will remain in Illinois, joining his son on racing weekends to serve as the team’s crew chief at the track. From all appearances, the Pierce family seems to be a close-knit group so keeping them together as much as possible was no doubt a wise move on the part of the team.
That said, perhaps the biggest question to be answered as the next racing season plays out is that of whether the driver-crew chief relationship can remain as productive as it has been with the two being separated by hundreds of miles during the week. But once again, this is in all likelihood a situation in which the adjustment will be a quick and smooth one as talent often outweighs most obstacles.
All in all, as a race fan I am very interested to see how this new pairing works out. Despite there being a few unanswered questions, it looks as if the potential here is enormous for all parties involved… including the fans of Dirt Late Model racing.