Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – CORINTH, VT – If you ask Adam Pierson, he and his team are just dumb rednecks from Vermont.
However, in 2023, Pierson proved he belong on the Super DIRTcar Series through grit and determination.
For a good chunk of the season, though, even he was questioning his abilities as the results just weren’t there.
Things started off on the wrong foot for Pierson in turn one on the very first competitive lap he made this past season, his heat race on night one of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. That’s when the 215 was collected in someone else’s misfortune and ended up flipping over.
What Pierson didn’t realize is that there was an issue with that chassis due to the flip. However, it didn’t show up at first.
From that point in February until the SummerFAST event at Land of Legends Raceway in August, Pierson had finished in the top 10 only once, a third place showing at his Friday night home, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway, on June 13th.
“I was starting to think I should drop off the Series because we sucked so bad,” Pierson said. “I didn’t want to waste any more money or time, but we decided to press on.”
That’s when the 215 team went to work. There’s no quit in the Gage Lawncare & Landscaping team and Pierson knew he was a better driver than the results were showing.
“We pulled the Small Block motor out of the car we ran on the Series last year,” he said. “We went to Ransomville for their Summer Nationals and finished fourth. Then I was like, well, I guess it may not be me.”
Next came another big hurdle, Mr. DIRT Track USA at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
“We then put the motor in our other chassis and went to the Valley,” he said. “We got another fourth.”
That’s when Pierson realized there was a problem with the car he’d been running all year and that it wasn’t his ability behind the wheel.
“I was like, okay, we’ve run two different cars and both of them ran well,” he said. “Obviously, we’d been chasing a bad chassis all season.”
The team’s performance picking up was a big shot in the arm for Adam. It was just what he needed.
“It gives you a lot of confidence when you start going better at the end of the year,” he said. “We had a great year at Albany but we’ve been a regular there for about four years now. We’ve gotten use to the guys we race with.”
Many could say that Pierson’s 2023 season was at two opposite ends of the spectrum. While he enjoyed success at his Friday night home in Malta, NY, collecting three victories and placing third in track points, the Super DIRTcar Series, on the other hand, was a different story.
“The Series was tough,” he said. “We had an ill-handling race car that we didn’t know about until late in the season. After the flip, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Figuring out that the chassis was the problem really got my head back in the game.”
That was ever prevalent at Super DIRT Week where Pierson had a brand new Bicknell to compete with and locked his car in the top six in qualifying.
“We had luck on our side early on in the week and were running well,” he said. “This past year was a total team effort and I’m so grateful that we were able to get things pointed in the right direction to back up their effort. That’s what my team deserved.”
Unfortunately, Pierson didn’t get the finish he wanted at Oswego, placing 22nd after being involved in a multi-car incident. He then had three nights at the World Finals in Charlotte to close out his 2023 that he’d like to forget.
However, for Pierson, he’s extremely grateful for the dedication of his team. They not only work hard in the shop, but also traveling down the road to events and he knows the dedication it takes.
“The work definitely wears on you after a while,” he said. “It’s tough but my crew keeps me going. I couldn’t do this without Adam Gage, Ben Gray, my wife, Shawna or my Dad. I know we have a small crew but we chose to do this and they’re awesome. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work.”