That touring series features the use of 604 crate engines and contests races in seven states ranging from Florida to Kentucky. NeSmith races scheduled in this area include the Tri-County Race Track in Brasstown, NC, the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN, and I-75 Raceway in Sweetwater, TN.
“As of right now, our main focus is to run the NeSmith tour,” Henderson explained in a recent interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “They’ve been adding a bunch of dates on tracks where we’ve been good in the past. We’re excited about that. I think it’s(the series schedule) up to 26 nights right now and we’ve got a total of 42 scheduled races. So we’re going to concentrate on NeSmith, but that’s not all we’re going to do.”
The first NeSmith touring series race weekend is set to begin on January 28 with four consecutive nights of competition at the Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida culminating with a $10,000-to-win show on Saturday evening, January 31.
Henderson points out that his decision to go out on the road was partially based on finances and further based on a desire as a racer to gain experience while testing his own abilities and those of his team.
“The expense of going out on the road is not as much as having your equipment be on track every week around the house, and that’s just kind of the situation we were getting into,” the driver and business owner declared. “So, we left and went out on the road(at the end of last season). I won’t say we were successful, but we had some good runs and we noticed that the money we were making for running second through fourth or fifth was more than if we were winning at home. And, going racing is going racing so really the only extra expense is the fuel to get there. We just decided that’s what we wanted to do.”
Henderson also likes going into each race knowing with certainty that the results will be fairly earned.
“We started running with NeSmith,” he said. “Every time I’ve run with them in the past, there’s always a fair shakedown of the cars. They tech every car that signs in and they will protest a car themselves and check the top-3. You always know you get beat by a better car and not by someone with an unfair advantage. It’s hard not to chase that when you know you’re on an even playing field. I don’t know that I’m being cheated at home, but I do know I’m not being cheated on the road because that tech means everything to me.”
The owner of Rebel Diesel in Lenoir City believes that this move is one that can be done financially, if it is done in the right way.
“A lot of this stuff comes out of my pocket, or my company’s pocket,” Henderson said. “We have some good supporters, but we don’t have an unlimited budget. That’s why we choose to go crate racing with two pretty good cars instead of super racing with one good car and a mediocre motor. We can be more competitive at this level.”
Henderson will go into the season employing CVR Race Cars with the machine typically driven in this area by Brian Courtney serving as a backup. However, he will eventually switch to Rocket Chassis from Knoxville-based Brucebilt Performance.
“Brucebilt is putting together a really impressive program and they’re the only place around here that keeps parts in stock, so we went that route.”
The driver and team owner realizes there could be pitfalls to become an issue while out on the road that would be more easily handled in the home shop. However, Henderson believes his team will be prepared for whatever emergencies might arise.
“I’ve got guys who are pretty intelligent on that kind of stuff and they’ve gone through all the worst case scenarios and they’ve got us stocked up pretty good on what it would take and what we would need to do in different scenarios.”
While he won’t go so far as to set goals in terms of winning races during the upcoming campaign, there are things Henderson believes his team can and will accomplish.
“What I see for us is a lot of growth as a team and for me as a driver,” he stated. “I make mistakes from a driver’s standpoint and I need to give my guys better feedback so I really want to grow as a driver and us to grow as a team and be able to compete on a national level with NeSmith. My ultimate goal is to give Ronnie Johnson a chase to the end in the points. I understand that I’m racing a legend and a Hall of Famer, but I want people to know we were competitive and that we were there.”