Bobby Pierce won a Thursday night World 100 preliminary event at Eldora Speedway to collect his 28th checkered flag of the 2023 season.
That opening sentence is a fact but much of the rest of this piece is my opinion which is what blogs are meant to be.
Scott Bloomquist is the greatest Dirt Late Model racer of all time. Hundreds of feature wins, multiple series championships, and crown jewel trophies in bunches offer evidence of that statement. That said, others such as Billy Moyer also deserve a place in that conversation.
In this era of highly competitive racing, there are several who have already or are in the process piecing together their own great careers. Jonathan Davenport, Brandon Sheppard and Jimmy Owens are among several current drivers who are worthy of having the label “great” attached to their names not only for what they have done over the course of their careers and for the potential of what may yet be to come.
But at the young age of 26, Bobby Pierce is in the process of building a career that is looking like it could match those of the very best in the history of the sport.
The ‘Smooth Operator’ has already won 28 features in 2023. And those wins have not come against weak fields, but rather, in national shows against the best in the sport. Among his victories are the crown jewels of the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway and the North-South 100 at Florence Speedway as well as other high paying events.
Pierce has won 10 of the last 12 features he has entered. There have been a total of eight wins over the course of this campaign with paydays valued at $20,000 or more for the No. 32 team spread among the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, and the XR Super Series.
Pierce currently leads the WoO Late Models standings by a margin of 138 points over Brandon Sheppard and Chris Madden.
The achievements of the Oakwood, Illinois driver, however, are not a single season phenomenon. Rather, Pierce has been experiencing success for several years now. At just 19 years of age, he became the youngest driver to ever win a crown jewel event when he captured the North-South 100 in 2016. That victory was quickly followed up with a World 100 triumph just one month later.
The five-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion has also won the Show-me 100 in 2017 and the Silver Dollar Nationals in 2019. Pierce’s overall win total is fast approaching the 300 number.
Although Pierce’s accomplishments are particularly impressive considering his age, he still has quite a way to go to match Bloomquist, Moyer, Owens, Davenport and Sheppard. At the same time, none of those drivers won a crown jewel as a teenager nor did they have as impressive of a resumé as his at his current age.
While his trophy collection does not yet match that of Bloomquist, one thing the two do have in common is the polarizing effect they have on the followers of the sport.
Bloomquist is one of the most loved and closely followed Dirt Late Model drivers ever but he has also been on the receiving end of many boos from the grandstands during his career. Along that same line, few if any current stars of the sport stir an audience quite like Pierce. The mention of his name over a track’s PA system or the appearance of his car on the track is certain to produce a reaction from the paying customers. Some of that reaction may come in the form of cheers and some in the form of jeers but all those in the stands are doing something when he appears.
While it is impossible to know where his racing career will ultimately lead in terms of wins and championships, Bobby Pierce has a head start on many of those he may very well find himself being compared to a few years down the road.
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