Outlaw Super Late Model racing’s stronghold has been in the Midwest for decades. However, it hasn’t been rare to see drivers from outside the region head to Outlaw Super Late Model country and compete with the discipline’s best in recent years.
Joe Brooks will be the latest driver to do so, trekking from Arizona to compete in a full schedule in 2021 driving for one of Outlaw racing’s premier teams. He will compete in the full schedule at Owosso Speedway while making other select starts at Midvale Speedway for Brian Short, joining reigning Glass City 200 winner Steve Needles and Brandon Short as a teammate.
He made the trip to Owosso last year to compete at the Fall Nationals for Mickey Maier, but a blown motor in practice ended his day before it ever began. That was where he met Short, setting off a series of events that led to an opportunity.
“When I went to race in Michigan, Brian and Brandon Short said if you ever want to come racing, you can come race for me,” Brooks told Speed51. “It came down to do I have the money to afford that kind of racing. He’s going to give me a chance.”
Brooks joins a team that has seen success just about everywhere they have competed. Needles has won two Main Event Racing Series championships and a Glass City 200 since he started driving for Short in 2016, while Short’s son Brandon has quickly become a rising star in the Outlaw Super Late Model world. The Cleveland, OH area-based team also won a Main Event Racing Series title, Summer Sizzler and Kalamazoo Klash with Jeff Ganus in 2014 and 2015.
Having grown up in Michigan, it gives him a chance to get back to his childhood roots in Outlaw Super Late Model racing. He will continue to stay in Arizona during the 2021 season, making the 2,000 mile trip to race as the season progresses.
“Me and Brian have something worked out to where the car will be in Ohio all the time. Basically, I’ll show up and race. Those guys are world class when it comes to working on cars, they are the best. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to race with those guys.”
Back in Arizona, Brooks has competed in Tucson Speedway’s Outlaw Late Model class over the last couple years. While the wedge bodies are the same as what fans in the Midwest see, he says that’s about where the similarities end.
“Even with Tuscon and what we run compared to other states, almost all other Outlaw programs are a Limited Late Model. A lot of them do a 602 and dumb down the rules. With Tuscon, it’s basically a Super Late Model on eight-inch tire. All the guys that run the Outlaws at Tuscon are old Super Late Models.
“The biggest difference is obviously the horsepower. The horsepower we run at Tuscon is 400, what I’m getting ready to run is 700, 800 horsepower. I think we’ve got maybe $8,000 into the motor here and I’ll be working with a $60,000 motor to start with. Everything in Michigan is quite a bit different. There’s basically unlimited rules in Michigan.”
With one of the strongest Outlaw Super Late Model teams behind him, Brooks has set high expectations for himself this year. He was close to winning back home at Tuscon in 2020, and he feels like he has what he needs to close it out in the Midwest.
“My goal is to win races. I was so close to winning last year, the thing that surprised me is the races that we were so close to winning were the ones that went uninterrupted without caution. The consistency to me was what it was all about. Anything less than winning this year would be a disappointment, especially with the people helping me and the equipment we have. It’s going to be up to me as a driver to get it done now.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Joe Brooks