To say that it’s been an active “silly season” since the close of the 2017 Dirt Late Model season would be an understatement of major proportions. Numerous drivers and teams have already announced significant changes for the year ahead while more news is almost certainly on the way.
This page will be updated as events warrant throughout the winter months so check back from time to time. With the PRI Show coming up later this week there will almost certainly be additions made soon.
Donald McIntosh leaves Blount Motorsports: Looking to expand his racing efforts, driver Donald McIntosh announced prior to the end of the 2017 campaign that he would leave Larry Garner’s Maryville, Tenn. based team to seek other opportunities that might allow him to race in more of the sport’s big events. As of yet, no announcement has been made regarding McIntosh’s 2018 plans.
Casey Roberts moves to Blount Motorsports: All indications are that Casey Roberts’ longtime car owners Jimmy and Anne Cushman are getting out of the sport which left the Toccoa, Georgia driver looking for a ride. With McIntosh vacating the BMS driver’s seat, Roberts was selected after a search led by team owner Larry Garner and crew chief David Bryant. The organization plans to continue racing on a regional level along with running selected big events in their Rocket Chassis and Vic Hill Racing Engines.
Jonathan Davenport to drive for Lance Landers: After experiencing the greatest Dirt Late Model season of all time in 2015, Davenport has driven for Barry Wright Race Cars, G.R. Smith and occasionally for Donald Bradsher over the past couple of seasons. But news came out during the weekend of the World of Outlaws sanctioned World Finals at The Dirt Track in Charlotte that the Blairsville, GA pilot would reunite with chassis setup guru Kevin Rumley under the banner of team owner Lance Landers.
The team plans to race on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with Longhorn Chassis and power provided by Andy Durham Race Engines.
Earl Pearson, Jr. leaves Dunn Benson Motorsports: Earl Pearson, Jr. had reunified with Dunn Benson Motorsports after a stint with a team operated by NASCAR’s Labonte brothers. While the Dunn Benson team did see some success in the reunification, a seventh place finish in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series standings was the result of their 2017 efforts. After the conclusion of the 2017 season following the Dirt Track World Championship, Pearson informed the team of his intention to depart.
Earl Pearson, Jr. joins Stuckey Enterprises: Almost immediately after the announcement that he had departed Dunn Benson, the Jacksonville, Fla. native let it be known that he would pilot Black Diamond Race Cars for Ronnie Stuckey in 2018. Pearson will maintain his longtime association with the Lucas Oil brand of products which will serve as the primary sponsor on his new ride as the team competes on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Bobby Pierce moves to Dunn Benson Motorsports: With Pearson’s departure, DBM was left to search for a new driver. According to the press release put out by the team, Bobby Pierce was their first choice. The young Illinois driver will branch out from his Midwestern roots and his family’s chassis building operation as he takes the wheel of a Rocket Chassis for Dunn Benson in 2018. Bob Pierce will remain in Illinois to continue building Bob Pierce Race Cars during the week and will join his son’s team on weekends to serve as crew chief on weekends. The team has not announced plans in terms of what series they will follow or if they will follow a schedule based on selected races near their North Carolina based shop.
Chris Madden takes the wheel of the Barry Wright Race Cars house car: In one of the more surprising pieces of news in the silly season releases, a reunification of Madden with Barry Wright was made known in early December. After competing full-time on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in 2017, Madden will take the wheel for the Cowpens, SC chassis builder in the coming campaign. The team will use Clements Race Engines in their cars. While Wright has not ruled out the possibility of taking Madden on another tour with the WoO Late Models, a more regionally based tour seems more likely.
Brian Shirley to pilot G.R. Smith entry in 2018: After a successful but temporary run which included a win in the prestigious World 100 with driver Jonathan Davenport, Smith enlisted Brian Shirley to fill his vacant driver’s seat late in 2017. The duo has decided to make their relationship a more permanent one as they will compete full-time on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in 2018. The 36-year-old Shirley will pilot Rocket XR1 chassis out of the Smith stable with power provided by Cornett Race Engines.
Donald McIntosh to run for Lucas Oil RoY: Donald McIntosh announced via Facebook that he intends to race for his family owned team on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in 2018 with the hope of earning Rookie of the Year honors. The team’s choice of chassis and engine combination will be announced at a later date.
Shane McDowell Racing on the move: Shane McDowell Racing has moved out of its shop located on the campus of NASCAR’s Richard Childress Racing into a facility near that of Scott Bloomquist in Mooresburg, Tenn. SMR intends to continue with Dale McDowell as its driver while running a pick-and-choose type schedule.
*Again, this page will be updated as events warrant so check back often.