WALPOLE, N.H. — Winning a second consecutive championship in any sport is a tough task, but that’s exactly what 19-year-old Derek Griffith is aiming to do this upcoming season.
Griffith will be chasing back-to-back titles on the Granite State Pro Stock Series (GSPSS) at the wheel of his No. 12 LCM Racing Chevrolet.
“Last year was huge for us, we kinda proved ourselves,” Griffith said. “We’ve always been fast, but never had the luck aspect and even me as a driver, I wasn’t all there. But last year, we finally got those couple of wins and hopefully we can carry momentum into this year.”
Griffith has been racing since 2009 and is approaching his fourth year behind the wheel in the full-fendered Pro Stock class. His career started when he ran 4 Cylinder cars at Hudson Speedway, but it wasn’t long before he got a chance to make a step up, with the help of his now life-long friend Louie Mechalidies.
“Louie has always been a great friend of my father and he gave us the basic knowledge of a 4 cylinder car right from the start,” Griffith said. “I blew up a motor racing and Louie ended up putting it back together and from then on we just have been working together. He helped me build an outlaw car and at the time I was only 14. After we raced that outlaw, he thought I had done well and asked me to hop into his Pro Stock and I took the chance and ran with it.”
Mechalides has been someone Griffith has become extremely close with. He feels comfortable and trusts every wrench is turned properly and every adjustment he makes is going to help the car.
“We’ve won a lot more with Louie and we are connected on a friend basis, which isn’t always the case in racing. I don’t really consider him my crew chief, but instead a good friend and that makes it a ton easier for us to work together in the shop and at the track.”
Griffith recalls his first Pro Stock race as one of the most important races he has ever run. He immediately made his name known, finishing inside the top-five and gaining respect of his fellow competitors right from the start.
“Monadnock was my first ever Pro Stock race and we finished inside the top-three in my first ever race. That really meant a lot to me then and now, it means even more.”
Speaking of his competitors, Griffith said the drivers he races against are some of the best in the region. For him, working together on the track with them to put on a good show for the fans is easy, since they all give each other respect.
“Two years ago, a lot of us couldn’t make it a full race without ripping off a fender and now we run a lot of the races with minimal caution flags,” Griffith said. “We become to know each other and we know how each of us driver so it makes it easier.”
Entering the 2016 season, Griffith will be tested even more than before, as will all the competitors on the GSPSS. The series will make their first ever visits to Riverhead Raceway (July 30) and Wiscasset Speedway (Sept. 3-4), two tracks that Griffith is looking forward to touring in his Pro Stock.
“I think the new tracks will spice it up for all of us because a lot of the guys that we end up racing are track champions at that specific track. These tracks in general are going to be hard for me to show up to with little experience, but I also love experiencing some new tracks. We unloaded at a couple of the new tracks last year and we were a bullet. I trust Louie and I think we’ll end up being perfect at them.”
Griffith and his team are still mourning the loss of two team members that have supported him for years, but he knows he will have them riding with him for all 11 races this year.
“We just lost one of my biggest supporters, Louie’s mother just passed away and she was easily one of the biggest supporters of mine for a long time. I will have some co-pilots with me from now on and I know they will be riding right along with me.”
As Griffith rolls into the 2016 season hoping to grab a second straight championship and gain more experience behind the wheel of his Pro Stock, he has many people he has to thank — because without them, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“I’ve gotta thank LCM Racing, and I’d also like to thank my spotter, Dolly Mechalides. The first time without her for me was down in Florida recently and it was awkward not having her and I look forward to having her back for the year,” Griffith said. “It’s a pleasure to go racing with all these guys and I can’t wait to get the season going.”
The Granite State Pro Stock Series will start their 11 race schedule at White Mountain Motorsports Park on May 21.
For more information, including the entire 2016 schedule and current registered list of drivers, fans can visit www.gspss.net.
-Granite State Pro Stock Series Press Release / Speed51.com Photo