Parker Stephens stormed onto the Super Late Model scene in 2015 by earning SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Rookie of the Year honors and scoring a variety of victories in the region. The next season started strong for him as well, with a second-place finish to Kyle Busch at the Winter Showdown and a top 20 pick in the Speed51.com Short Track Draft. However, his time in the west coast racing scene abruptly came to a halt as soon as his rise began.
After spending two years back home in Olympia, Washington working full-time and being involved with a Legends Car program, Stephens announced he will be making his return to Super Late Model racing with select starts at South Sound Speedway in 2019.
“Austin and Willie Thom, they’re racers as well, they’re starting to go Late Model racing again,” Stephens told Speed51.com. “He has a full deal doing a bunch of other things. They have some K&N stuff going on as well as other Super Late Model stuff. I’ve raced against them and they’ve raced against me and everything.
“At the home track we race at (South Sound Speedway), they said they were missing two or three races and they want to stay in the points for the championship,” he continued. “They asked would you be interested in hopping in the car and racing the thing and I said ‘Well, I’d like to but I don’t have the money, and they were like, nope, just show up and drive, you don’t need to pay for nothing. Of course that sparked my interest in it and I talked a little bit more with them and we came to conclusions and some things, and that’s pretty much how it came about.”
He believes he will get re-acclimated to a Super Late Model quickly after not being behind the wheel of one for nearly three years. Along with his Legends Car duties, he is excited for what the 2019 season brings.
“There might be some rust to shake off for a couple laps and then it’s going to be like riding a bike again. I’m excited, it’s going to be good. I drive the Legend Car and stuff on my own program and I’ve been doing it for a full season and I’ll do a full schedule. Then of course getting into a seat again into the big cars is going to be amazing. I haven’t been doing that for a couple years now.”
His racing career started in the Legends ranks in his home state of Washington, where he won the state title in 2012 and 2013. He believes his recent time spent in a Legends car will help him get back into the swing of things behind the wheel of a Late Model, going off his success when he first made the transition.
“I grew up racing Legends and that was my transition, from a Legend Car to a Super Late Model,” he said. “I won my first-ever Super Late Model race and that was huge for me. I have a lot of confidence going back into the car.”
Despite not having made a Late Model start since 2016, Stephens expects one thing when he straps in, and that is to win.
“Honestly, I don’t really expect anything,” he stated. “I already raise my standards high and set my bar pretty high so I don’t expect anything less than to go out there and win.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Parker Stephens Racing