Eli Beets making great strides as he transitions to Super Late Models

Eli Beets

Making the transition from Crate Late Model racing to Super Late Model is not as easy as it may seem. While the two types of racing machines may look similar, they drive very differently. Crate Late Models require drivers to stay hard on the gas in order to maintain their momentum while Super Late Models call for the driver to exercise throttle control and finesse in order to keep the massive amount of horsepower in those cars under control while carrying very high speeds around dirt ovals.

Eli Beets is proving to be a quick study in Super Late Model competition. The 17-year-old driver has made three starts in that form of racing and has scored three top-10 finishes in the process. After starting 10th in his first SLM effort in the Southern All-Star Dirt Racing Series-sanctioned Governor’s Cup at the Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL back in August the Knoxville native ended his night with a sixth-place result.

The young racer then followed that successful debut up one week later by setting the fastest time in qualifying for a Southern All-Stars race at I-75 Raceway in Sweetwater, TN. After starting from the pole, the No. 109 Capital Race Car took the checkered flag in the sixth position.

But the best effort to date in a Super Late Model came this past weekend in another Southern All-Stars feature at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN. Beets started on the outside of the second row then fell back early on in the 50-lap main event. But a late-race charge would be rewarded with his first podium finish as he came home third behind Hall of Famer Dale McDowell and SAS points leader Payton Freeman.

“It feels good,” Beets declared in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com following the Smoky Mountain race. “I told dad that I’m super happy right now. I’ve just got to figure out how to get a little better in the first five laps of a race going from a Crate car to a Super car. I was just talking to Dale, we came off of turn four and I think I can run wide open all the way down the front stretch, but once we got going, you never get this thing wide open. I’ve just got a lot to learn for the first five or so laps to keep myself up front to have a chance to win.”

With only three races under his belt in a Super, Beets is still learning the nuances of all that go into that form of motorsports. The race at Smoky Mountain increased his knowledge in one aspect in particular.

“I think at one point I fell back to sixth but then I got up there running the top and caught Ricky(Weiss) then went to the bottom and passed him,” he explained. “I thought ‘There might be a little something down there’ so I rolled the bottom for a little bit. It’s hard to keep doing it and to stay consistent down there because I was afraid I was going to overheat the tires. That’s another thing I’ve got to learn- what’s too much? You don’t really overheat tires in a Crate race.”

The racer who has won in a Crate Late Model at tracks such as Boyd’s Speedway, North Georgia Speedway, Lake Cumberland Speedway and Smoky Mountain said that his experience in those lesser-powered cars did prove beneficial on Saturday.

“Here, I always felt like I was a little better if I did drive it like my Crate car and keep up a little momentum to keep from getting down there and stopping in the middle of the corner,” he pointed out. “If I can keep my momentum up, I can get in the fuel a little bit earlier and get a better run down the straightaway.”

Eli Beets in his Capital Race Car

On a night when McDowell completely dominated, Beets took note of the veteran’s style.

“Tonight, I just wanted to be like Dale McDowell,” he declared. “At one point I was running fourth and he was about to lap me. I wish I had somebody to lean on a little bit more in the Super stuff but I don’t know that there’s one driver who I try to lean on the most. I watch Dale a lot and he’s really good everywhere we go.”

Even though he and his family-owned team have now made the move to Super Late Models, there still may be events yet to run in other forms of competition.

“We’ll still run some Crate races,” Beets stated. “At some point I’d like to get a spec motor, a steelhead, and run some of those Topless deals or something like that. I’d be alright if we just Super raced from here on out.”

But would he ever try to run more than one type of car on the same night?

“I think it would be tough. I’ve only done a 604 and 602 on the same night and that was tough enough in just those lower horsepower motors so I can’t imagine the difference in running a Super and the Crate car on the same night. Somebody who does that really well is Cory Hedgecock. If they have two cars, it doesn’t seem like either one of them struggles.”

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