Nick Hoffman has established himself as the top Modified racer of his generation, if not all time. Over the past several seasons the 30-year-old originally from Belleville, Illinois has earned four UMP Summer Nationals championships along with 57 feature wins on the Hell Tour. He has also been crowned as the UMP National Champion on three occasions.
All that success has now provided the current resident of Mooresville, North Carolina with a full-time Super Late Model opportunity on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series driving a Longhorn Chassis for car owner Tye Twarog. Hoffman and the No. 9 team currently sit sixth in the overall standings and first among those seeking Rookie of the Year honors.
Although he has had Late Model opportunities in the past, such as when he drove in relief of an injured Scott Bloomquist in 2021, those chances did not come with guarantees of long-term security. So what is it like going into a Late Model campaign knowing that he will have a full season to acclimate to this form of racing?
“It’s really nice,” Hoffman stated in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “The biggest thing is being able to work on the stuff everyday, myself, down in North Carolina. Every Late Model opportunity I’ve had has been great but it’s just always been a deal where I wasn’t hands-on on the car. This is what I’ve always wanted, so as far as that goes, it’s been really nice.”
Aside from being a great Modified driver, Hoffman is one of the top chassis builders in the country for that type of race car. And while keeping up with his Elite Chassis business while at the same time maintaining a Late Model ride has its challenges, everything has gone to plan.
“I don’t have a very big shop for my Elite Chassis side so all that’s kind of separated from the Late Model so it does kind of make it a pain in the ass going from one shop to the other, but as far as this goes, it’s going really well,” he pointed out. “Now it’s my main focus but my Elite Chassis deal is really strong. Being able to race full time, and Tye has left it basically up to me, if I want to run 90 races this year, he doesn’t care. That’s really nice to be able to make my own schedule.”
Having spent most of his racing life working on Modifieds, what has been the biggest adjustment in tuning on Late Models?
“A lot of it is the same but the biggest thing is that these things take a lot more work as far as general maintenance, Hoffman explained. “There is more work to a Late Model. There’s more stuff to keep track of. Your general stuff like laps on motors is about the same but I feel like there’s more body work and more fine tuning. Obviously the Late Model side changes really fast. If you miss a couple of weeks you get behind on setup stuff. We’re staying on top of everything and learning where we need to be better. The biggest thing is just racing because we haven’t done a whole lot of racing already with a lot of rainouts.”
Weather has not been kind to Dirt Late Model teams and series so far in 2023. Multiple rainouts across the board have made for a rather disjointed racing schedule. Hoffman has found positives in spite of the cancellations.
“It really sucks,” he said of the lost race dates. “For me, we’re going to have to travel pretty far to race anywhere really other than other Outlaw races so we took it as our off season. I’ve got another car I’m building, another Longhorn we’re putting together, and we’ve kind of spent time getting our stuff right for the Outlaw races coming up and the grueling schedule throughout the summer.”
The ‘Thrill from Mooresville’ will enter races outside the World of Outlaws slate when it’s reasonable to do so. In particular, he hopes to take his new car to a few familiar places.
“The Outlaw schedule really isn’t bad this year but I’ll run some Hell Tour races and Illinois Speedweek and stuff like that so I’m being sure we’re geared up for that. It sucks for sure to get rained out that many times but it was kind of nice and get everything caught up.”
During the early part of the season, Hoffman has been fast in qualifying and heat races but the challenge has been to carry that speed throughout the feature events.
“Typically for me that’s ass backwards,” he explained. “In Modifieds, I suck early in the night but I’m really good at feature time. With the Late Model side, it’s learning what to adjust, like the other night at Eldora, I started on the front row but we chose the wrong tires and I just dropped anchor. It’s just adjustments throughout the night, making sure we’ve got this thing tight enough or loose enough or whatever.
“At Volusia one night I started third and I got to the lead and led a couple of laps but I was just too tight so they slid me and I got back in dirty air then I was way too tight,” he recalled. “It just depends from track to track but just building a notebook. I’ve never ran a Longhorn car until this year so I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far and they’ve been great to work with setup wise to keep me on track.”
In last week’s World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series action, Hoffman turned in finishes of 16th on Thursday night at 411 Motor Speedway, 7th in the third feature at Talladega Short Track on Friday evening then 6th in the $50,000-to-win main event on Saturday at Talladega.
Hoffman and the other WoO Late Models competitors will return to the track for a big weekend at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin on May 4-6.
Click the play button below to hear the interview with Nick Hoffman:
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