Another East Tennessee Star is Born with NeSmith Late Model Rookie Ryan King

Ryan King

Ryan King

*Story submitted by Roby Helm of the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series

December 8, 2015



                CARTERSVILLE, GA – Many a legendary star of dirt late model racing has come out of East Tennessee through the years.  The latest making a name for himself is the 2015 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year Ryan King of Seymour, TN.


                On his way to the top Rookie Award, King turned in two wins, seven top five finishes, 14 top ten finishes and two Fast Time Awards in 21 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series races in 2015.  That put King second in the final season point standings in a series he didn’t decide to commit to until the day before it began on January 28.


                It had been a seven-year journey before that decision-making day for a young driver that had not raced any other type of race car than a dirt late model, with a heavy emphasis on one powered by a Chevrolet Performance 604 Circle Track Engine.  King also did most of his racing at his home track, 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN and through the years has been loyal to a local chassis builder.


                King’s racing career began in 2008, and by 2010, he was crowned the Steel-Head Late Model Champion at 411 Motor Speedway.  That title showed off King’s natural ability at driving a race car because his 604 engine was 200 horsepower less than the steel-head engines.


                For 2012, 411 Motor Speedway and Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN were both a part of the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series where drivers competed for both a Track Championship and a National Championship using a points system.  It was also the first year that the name Ryan King began to show up on the National radar.


                King won the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Late Model Track Championship at both 411 Motor Speedway and Smoky Mountain Speedway.  His success at those two tracks also showed out in the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series National point standings, as King finished third among 445 drivers from across the country that earned points in 2012.


                In 28 races, King won seven with 23 top five finishes and 25 top ten finishes.  When King first sat in a dirt late model, it was a Stinger Chassis built by J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment in nearby Rockford, TN.  Stinger is the only chassis make King has competed with since the beginning of his career.


                For the 2013 season, King decided to load up his Stinger sponsored by his Dad’s business, Brian King Roofing, and journey to tracks outside of the Knoxville, TN area by touring with the Southern Regional Racing Series.  King showed his versatility by adapting to new tracks in Tennessee, North Georgia and Kentucky.  King finished third in the 2013 SRRS point standings and was the Rookie of the Year.


                The 2014 season saw King return to 411 Motor Speedway for another run at the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series National Championship.  In 21 races, King had eight wins, 18 top five finishes and finished in the top ten in all 21 starts. 


That was good enough to once again place him third among the 478 drivers in the 2014 NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series National point standings, and King also earned his third 411 Motor Speedway Late Model Championship.  It was also a season that King honored his racing mentor, the late Scott Sexton, by adorning his Stinger with Sexton’s number 52 and graphics package.


The 2015 season saw King without a racing playground, as 411 Motor Speedway decided to drop the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series program for another type of dirt late model.  King was happy running his Stinger powered by the $5,795 Chevrolet Performance 604 Circle Track Engine, so with no other local tracks running the weekly deal, he and his crew had a big decision to make.


The 2015 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Tour was set to open on January 28 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, FL.  On January 27, Ryan, his Dad Brian, his Papaw Jack King, his Crew Chief Ben Baldwin, and Crew Member Josh Dunaway loaded up and made the eight hour trip to give the NeSmith National Tour a try and see what happens.


In his first race at a track he had never seen before, King finished fifth; he followed that up with an eight-place finish on January 29, and an 18th on January 30.  King left Bubba Raceway Park seventh in the NeSmith Late Model point standings, so they soldiered on to the next two races at Golden Isle Speedway in Brunswick, GA on February 14 and 15.


Despite disappointing finishes of 21st and 15th, King earned enough points to vault him up to third in the point standings.  Through the first 12 races of the season, King stayed third in the National point standings.  On August 1, King’s season took a spectacular turn at Cochran Motor Speedway in Cochran, GA. 


King was the fast qualifier, took the lead on lap 15, and then held off fellow East Tennessee racer Cory Hedgecock of Lenoir City, TN in a spectacular side-by-side duel for his first series career win.  There wasn’t much time to celebrate, as the next race was on April 7 at Penton Raceway in Penton, AL.


For the second straight race, it was the Ryan King Show.  King set fast time, and then led all 40 laps for a clean sweep in his second straight NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series career win.  The Penton Raceway win moved King up to the second spot in the NeSmith Late Model point standings, a position he kept for the remainder of the 2015 season, and earned him the Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year Award.


For more information and rules about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing.  Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month.  You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.

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