Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – Todd Cooney is preparing for an opportunity he won’t forget in 2023.
As the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models get ready for their season opener on Jan. 18-21 during Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, he’ll join the field as a Rookie of the Year contender—all while igniting his passion for racing.
“Late Model racing is my passion,” Cooney said. “I live, eat, and breathe racing. I live for this stuff and it’s what I work for.”
Work commitments and health issues kept the Des Moines, IA, driver from living out his dream in the past. However, that changes in 2023 as Cooney’s ability to work from the road allows him to run a national tour.
“About five years ago, I had a lot of health issues, and I’m at the point where I don’t necessarily be on-site to work,” Cooney said. “I can do some of my work from the road now. It’s always been a dream to do this stuff, and it’s my first opportunity to be able to go do it. I have great guys that work for me, and they basically said go live your dream and have fun.”
While Cooney will battle for Rookie of the Year, he’s no stranger to success. He’s found Victory Lane three times at one of Iowa’s most prestigious events—the IMCA SuperNationals at Boone Speedway.
Despite his success at Boone, where the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models will compete in August, he understands what to expect when the season begins.
“We’ve won (IMCA) SuperNationals three times,” Cooney said. “Then I got sick, and Ricky (Thornton Jr.) won it for me twice. So, we’ve won it five times.
“But as far as the racing goes, there’s no comparison between what I’ve done in the past and what I’m getting ready to get into. So as far as the experience goes, it’s going to be new for me.”
Boone isn’t the only track Cooney has experience at on the 53-race schedule. He also raced at Volusia—a place he started visiting as a kid.
“I’ve been going to Volusia since I was seven years old with my dad,” Cooney said. “We go for (DIRTcar Nationals) every year, and I don’t miss a race. I don’t care if it’s the Sprint Cars, Late Models; I go to every race at Volusia. I’ve just always loved the place.”
“We did decent there with the Limited (Late Model) stuff, and we went in there last year (at DIRTcar Nationals) and sucked,” Cooney said. “We tried to go into last year prepared, but because of the shortage of parts, shortage of this, and shortage of that. Honestly, we weren’t as prepared as we should’ve been.”
That experience at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” gave him a new perspective on what’s to come at Sunshine Nationals.
“Something I learned is that when you go into one of these deals with the World of Outlaws, you better have your shit together,” Cooney said. “That was a big learning curve last year, and it’s still a big learning curve.”
Cooney won’t let the opportunity to live out his dream go to waste when he straps in his Longhorn by Wells at Sunshine Nationals. He said he feels it’s only a matter of time before he is ready to contend.
“From where I’m coming from, we’re just working-class people, and we’re going to go try to race,” Cooney said. “I think with a little time, we’ll be in the game.”
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models kick off their 2023 season at Volusia Speedway Park during Sunshine Nationals Jan. 18-21. They’ll be joined by the DIRTcar Pro Late Models and 602 Late Models, making the event a True Late Model Palooza.