The Super DIRTcar Series is full of legendary and well-established drivers. Wheelmen such as Brett “The Jet” Hearn, Matt Sheppard, Danny “The Doctor” Johnson and Billy Decker fight for wins race after race. But now there’s a fresh young face ready and willing to bang doors with the old guard. His name is Max McLaughlin.
That last name should be easily recognizable to many Big Block Dirt Modified fans. Max is the 16-year-old son of “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin, the pilot of the No. 6 Troyer Mud Buss in 1983.
“It’s really cool. Especially because he drove the Troyer Mud Buss back in the day,” McLaughlin told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Now I’m driving the Troyer number six. I’ve got the same paint scheme as him, so it’s really cool to follow in his footsteps.”
McLaughlin’s first foray into Big-Block Modified racing came at the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway (NC) last October. He shocked all in attendance when he set fast time in qualifying.
Now he steps into his first full season in one of the toughest series on dirt in the country. The former Millbridge Speedway (NC) track champion in Outlaw Karts said he isn’t nervous about racing against the Brett Hearns and Billy Deckers, but instead is as excited as can be.
“I think I’ll learn from them more than anything,” he said. “I don’t really feel a lot of pressure just because I try not to think about that. It’s definitely going to be cool racing with all of them. It’s definitely the toughest competition I’ve ever raced against. I’m definitely going to learn a lot this year.”
McLaughlin said his goal for this year is to score at least one win, but ultimately he just wants to learn as much as he can. He plans on utilizing his teammates, Peter Britten, Dave Blaney, and Jimmy Phelps as much as possible, as well as his father who is also his crew chief. But McLaughlin has another training tool in his arsenal that many should be envious of.
“HBR owns Weedsport (Speedway), so we’re right here,” he said. “And that’s a big learning tool being able to have that track here to test on whenever we want, and having that nice of a facility to test on.”
Being able to test every day at a race track in Upstate New York means being in New York every day. And that means that McLaughlin has moved to New York from his home in North Carolina. And with that comes a big adjustment.
“That was hard saying goodbye to all my friends and my mom too,” he said. “My mom is still down in North Carolina. She has a job as a nurse, so she couldn’t come up. My dad made the move and we’re basically at the shop all day every day. So we haven’t had much time to do much else other than that. But it’s nice up here. The cold weather is what I don’t like. I don’t like the cold weather. I don’t have many big, heavy jackets.”
McLaughlin and the rest of the Super DIRTcar Series stars will kick off their 2016 season on Saturday, April 30 at Fulton Speedway (NY).
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Daryl Canfield