Column By: NICK GRAZIANO / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – Every week a group of friends from across the country get together on iRacing to race and hangout. However, in the nearly years they’ve been racing together, they’ve never met in person.
They’re changing that this year at the 50th Running of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week.
Brian Lawson has been a New York native his entire life, currently living in Standfordville, NY. He grew up around Northeast Modified racing, going to his first Super DIRT Week in 1978 and every year after until joining the Navy in 1986. In those years, he would go with his father to help a local team. And while he was 10 years old the first year he went, Lawson hasn’t forgotten that memory.
“Just being involved with it, I was in heaven, and I was hooked,” he said.
After joining the Navy, Lawson had gotten away from going to races for a while but never lost his love for it. He eventually found his way back to Super DIRT Week a few times, including when it moved from the New York State Fairgrounds to Oswego Speedway.
Then, iRacing emerged. Lawson started using it in 2011, but it wasn’t until the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds got added a couple years ago that he became a weekly online racer.
Through racing in leagues, that’s were Lawson met friends like North Dakota-native Isaac Salas, Michigan-native Butch Baker, Georgia-native Kevin Davis and Super DIRTcar Series Director Dean Reynolds, among others. They sent years trading slide jobs and jokes but were never able to all get together in person.
When talks of going to the 50th Running of NAPA Super DIRT Week came up, interests peaked. With a bit of insistence and Super DIRT Week hype talk from Lawson and Reynolds – and a bonus from work for Salas – the iRacing friends put a plan together to meet in person for the first time in Oswego.
“It’ll be good to let loose a little bit, have a couple beverages, you know, paint the town red so to speak,” Lawson said with a chuckle. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Along with being from different states, they’re all varying ages with Lawson and Baker in their 50s, Davis in his 30s and Salas the youngest at 22 years old.
For the Minot, ND native, it’ll be his first NAPA Super DIRT Week and first time seeing Big Block Modifieds in person.
“I honestly never knew about those kinds of Modifieds growing up,” Salas said. “When they came to iRacing, I thought they were this really new… I’d never seen them before. Brian, since he lives out in New York, he was showing me all these old races. We were watching some highlights and things like that. It really ignited my passion for it. I really enjoyed that style of racing.
“We were watching these races and for one to be all the way against the wall and one to be all the way at the bottom and both making it work, it blew me away. I’m so excited to watch.”
Salas was born into racing, having a picture of himself at a dirt track when he was about two-months old. Initially, the IMCA Modifieds that race in his area – like a Midwest UMP Modified – were his favorite to watch but overtime grew into a fan of anything with four wheels and a motor.
Then, when the Big Block Modifieds were introduced on iRacing, he found a new passion. So, while excited to see his iRacing friends for the first time in person, he’s just as excited to experience the Super DIRTcar Series for the first time at its biggest race of the year.
“I’m super excited for the atmosphere,” he said. “I’m anxious to see it in person. I’m truly excited.”
The Coast to Coast racing league group of friends will trade racing their digital Big Block Modifieds to watch real ones this October, while continuing their weekly friendship – just this time in person.
You can experience iRacing’s Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds for yourself and try to win a trip to the 50th NAPA Super DIRT Week through the inaugural Super DIRT Week 50 for 50 eSports Classic.