One of the biggest news stories from the 2022-23 off-season in the Dirt Late Model racing world was that four-time World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard was leaving the West Virginia based Rocket Chassis house car organization run by Mark Richards to race a Longhorn Chassis for his family team(which eventually merged with another operation to form Sheppard Riggs Racing).
Now, Sheppard is back in the news for being named as the new house car driver for North Carolina’s Longhorn Chassis brand. The new pairing will begin working together after the close of the 2023 season for the World of Outlaws(where Sheppard primarily races) and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series(where the Longhorn house car with driver Tim McCreadie currently competes).
Sheppard had an incredibly successful run in his previous stint as a house car driver with Rocket. Not only did he win the four previously mentioned championships but added enough feature wins to his totals to become the all-time winningest pilot with the World of Outlaws. The No. 1 machine won the 2019 Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway along with the Dirt Million event held at Mansfield Motor Speedway that same year.
The 30-year-old driver from New Berlin, Illinois has won a combined total of four Dirt Track World Championships with both the Rocket house car and Best Performance Motorsports.
Even with all his accomplishments, Sheppard will have big shoes to fill with the Longhorn team as that car has won the past two Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series titles with McCreadie in the driver’s seat.
When the announcement came just under a year ago that Sheppard was leaving Rocket, it was stated that he wanted to move closer to his Illinois home to spend more time with his family. The announcement that he is going to drive for an organization based out of North Carolina seems contradictory to that. However, the cars will be prepared in both North Carolina and Illinois.
Sheppard addressed that issue in a release put out on the Longhorn Chassis Facebook page.
“What I’m most excited about with this Longhorn House Car Program is the leadership and direction this company is headed”, said Sheppard. “Many folks will say ‘Hey Brandon, I thought the whole purpose of you coming back home was to spend more time with your family? But what they don’t realize, is that Steve Arpin and Paul Leach are some of the best family guys you’ll ever meet. This company’s entire business model is built on surrounding themselves with likeminded employees and partners. They understand that me being balanced at home and splitting time with our race program in North Carolina or in Illinois when it makes sense geographically is good for everyone and I couldn’t be happier to be another solid piece in helping make our cars faster week in and week out not just for our own program, but the entire Longhorn customer base.”
Earlier this summer, Sheppard spent time driving the Longhorn car maintained by Kevin Rumley, who is closely associated with both Longhorn and Bilstein Shocks. The improvement in his own No. B5 program was immediately evident as he collected wins in the $53,000-to-win Silver Dollar Nationals at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway then the $30,000-to-win Quad Cities 150 at Iowa’s Davenport Speedway.
Longhorn’s Steve Arpin stated his organization’s excitement over the pairing in that same release mentioned above.
“While we’re very proud of the history of the company, we took a big leap this year in rebranding to give it to a more modern, new era feel,” Steve Arpin continued. “The next step in the process was to begin focusing on our efforts and resources with testing and development and that’s where Brandon and SRR come into play. We’re going to be aggressive in our approach to R&D to ensure that we stay ahead of the competition with the next evolution of mechanics and aerodynamics in dirt track racing. Brandon is young, highly decorated, and possesses the drive we need to keep our chassis competitive and at the top of the leaderboard which is something we hope our partners and customers can benefit from as well.”
Longhorn Chassis has had a highly successful 2023 season to date with multiple wins in the Dirt Late Model racing’s biggest events as well as having drivers Ricky Thornton Jr. and Bobby Pierce lead the current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Case Construction Late Model Series standings respectively in that brand of chassis.
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