Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a multi-part series on Speed51.com that will share the thoughts of Late Model drivers across the country in regards to the new Five Star Gen6 Late Model body.
During the last month, Speed51 has reached out to drivers from the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West Coast to get their opinion on the new body manufactured by Five Star Race Car Bodies. In an effort to hear the voices of drivers of all kinds, we have reached out to a variety of big-budget teams, those who race on a strict budget and everyone in between.
We will start off our series by sharing the responses to one of the more open-ended questions that we asked drivers. Simple and to the point.
In Part I, we tackle the question of, “Should the new Five Star body be approved for competition?”
The responses from the drivers we interviewed can be read below.
Brandon Setzer (Southeast Super Late Model Racer – Newton, NC)
For 2019: “No, not in the middle of the year. If it was going to happen, it should happen at the first of the year. That’s going to cause a lot of trouble in the middle of the year. People are going to be scrambling to get it on.”
For 2020: “Yeah, absolutely, I wouldn’t be against that. Most people are going to put a new body on in the offseason, if not a re-skin kit. There’s going to be some more cost over the offseason that people wouldn’t regularly have, cost that happens either way, whether it’s the old body or the new body.”
Chris Weinkauf (Midwest Super Late Model Racer – Merrill, WI)
For 2019: “I would have to say no because we’re too close to the start of the season.”
For 2020: “By that time, we should have some good data collected and we should be able to figure something else whether it has to be putting some weight on for the body or not putting some weight on for the body.”
Dalton Zehr (Midwest Super Late Model Racer – Port Orange, FL)
“I would allow it to run with a twenty-five-pound penalty at half-mile or bigger tracks to see what it does. I know for teams like myself twenty-five pounds is gold and we would have to see how that body performed before we went to it. It would be a slower transition and I think everybody could stay competitive.”
Derek Thorn (SRL Super Late Model Racer – Bakersfield, CA)
“No. I think there needs to be more than one manufacturer.”
Devin O’Connell (Granite State Pro Stock Series Racer – Madison, CT)
“I would say no. The number one reason why is the cost. You have guys that would have to switch from AR to Five Star. I’m no professional when it comes to bodies, but I know we looked into putting a Five Star body on the car at one point and it wasn’t cost efficient. I think they need to figure out a way to have a modern, updated look to a car but to where it could be a reskin kit or something where you spend $1,000 and you’re good to go versus having to shell out at least $3,800 just to get a brand-new body.”
DJ Shaw (PASS Super Late Model Racer & Chassis Builder – North Conway, NH)
“I would think eventually it’s going to have to be (approved). I don’t know like the AR side of the deal. I don’t know – it’s all he said, she said stuff that you read. It’s hard to know, but I think times have changed; the cars don’t look now like they did in 1980 so they’re going to have to let something else go at some point. Eventually, it’s going to have to evolve.”
Donnie Wilson (National Super Late Model Racer – Oklahoma City, OK)
“I sent a survey out to all kinds of drivers and I got about thirty-five back. Everybody’s thoughts were pretty much the same. Everybody agreed that, if the rules allowed for it, they would go to the new body, yes. The biggest thing I have a problem with is, in retrospect of all the officials, from one thing to another. I’m not downgrading them. They’ve got a job to do. They’re sitting there saying not everyone puts on bodies or skin kits in expense. That’s all hogwash. We all see most everyone puts on new bodies or skin kits every winter. That’s just a cop out to me.”
Garrett Evans (Northwest Super Late Model Racer & Promoter – East Wenatchee, WA)
“It’s way overdue. They should have done this a few years ago, but they need to go in a direction to have the body legal everywhere.”
Justin Mondeik (Midwest Tour Super Late Model Racer – Gleason, WI)
“I think if all the governing bodies can get on board together and create a true plan, it would work. I’m building a brand-new car this year and I built a brand new one last year. At the end of last year when I started building my new car, I ordered a new Five Star body like the old style for my new car this year. Now what if they approved this body right now or in two months? Now I’m stuck with this brand new, old Five Star body. I think they need to put together a schedule and say in January 2020 it’s going to be approved so that everybody can plan. It can’t be like an overnight decision. As long as everybody can get on board and everything is under control, I think I can support it.”
Nick Sweet (ACT Racer, PASS Racer and ARbodies Dealer – Barre, VT)
“That’s really tough to answer. I don’t know the whole reasons why the ABC Committee is declining it. Maybe they’re worried about having Five Star claim a monopoly and running AR out of business. I want AR to continue on and hopefully they can develop something. At that same note, racing has always had technology and it’s always going to advance. It’s hard to stop advancing. I think they will agree to having it eventually, it’s just happening very fast for them I believe. PASS wanted to be the cutting edge letting this body in the door.”
Tyler Tanner (Evergreen Speedway Super Late Model Racer – Auburn, WA)
“I think at this point it should not be approved until the end of 2019. Otherwise, you force lesser depth teams that still want to win to spend money and time in the middle of the season that they otherwise could use to race. Ultimately, I think it should have been approved this past offseason but we are beyond that now.”
Wyatt Alexander (PASS / PRA Super Late Model Racer – Ellsworth, ME)
“I know it has to happen eventually, I get that side of the argument 100-percent. This generation’s body is as old as I am; I get it. I guess I’m biased because I love the look of these bodies but I totally understand that eventually something needs to change or be tweaked. But I think a whole new body all at once right now, it doesn’t feel like the right time. Everything in racing across the board is all about timing and I guess that’s my biggest thing about it. It doesn’t feel like the right thing at the right time. I couldn’t tell you when the right time is.”
On Thursday, Speed51 will release Part II of the "Look at That Body" series, featuring the racer's reactions to the questions of performance with the new Five Star body.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Contributors: Jeremy Anders and Zach Evans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com