The SPEARS (SRL) Southwest Tour Series will be visiting Madera Speedway (CA) on September 29, for the “SPEARS Manufacturing 125 presented by 51 FIFTY Energy Drink.” The event will be the seventh scheduled race of nine during the 2018 season. It is the second time the series has visited Madera after opening the season at the one-third mile facility with a Jeremy Doss last-lap pass on Derek Thorn to take the victory. Two drivers who hope to improve their season-opening finishes and take home the $5,000 winner’s share, thanks to MPI Max Papis Innovations, are JM Motorsport drivers John and Cole Moore.
The father and son team finished eighth and tenth respectively in the 27-car field in March. The elder Moore (John) was the 2015 Pacific Challenge Series (PCS) Super Late Model Champion, also finishing second in 2017. He currently sits in the same position this season with one remaining event. The 18-year veteran of auto racing counts 28 career feature wins in Late Models and Modifieds.
John’s current SRL standing is seventh with five top-10 efforts in those six events. It is John’s first full season with the series, opening his career with 15 consecutive non-DNF’s. That number includes single starts in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He is chasing current championship leader Jeremy Doss, for the all-time lead in that category, with 18. It is an accomplishment he attributes to his driving style and his 18 years behind the wheel.
“The key to my consistency in a race car is that I only race as hard as the equipment will allow me to do that night,” John told Speed51.com. “I don’t overdrive the car, and coming from a background in motocross racing, I’m very good at anticipating where a wreck will migrate to. When I see it developing in front of me, I’m good at stepping out and missing them, because I can anticipate the slide and I know where they are going to go most of the time.”
Moore continued, “I won’t force my race car to do some things that the setup won’t allow it to do that night. Race cars are fragile. As tough as they are, the equipment is actually really fragile. So I take care of it. The clutch, motor and rear end… there are ways to take care of it, and to not take care of it, as a driver.”
As John heads back to Madera, he is looking forward to participating in the event, and feels the quality of his result, will depend on the quality of the setup on his car.
“I really like racing at Madera, but I enjoy racing at Stockton (99 Speedway, CA), I like racing at every track we go to. The biggest challenge in racing is the setup of the race car, and having it the way you want it, on that given race night. If the car is capable of winning, I’m going to win with it. If it is capable of third, I’m going to get third. My finish will reflect the setup that is on the race car. I think I’m the greatest race car driver ever. But you will only do what your race car will let you do. If you don’t think you are the best, you shouldn’t be out there,” Moore chuckled.
John’s son Cole was the 2015 PCS Rookie-of-the-Year in his first season of any kind in a race car on an oval track. He also came from a background of motocross racing beginning at the age of two. The Sacramento State Senior is also making his first full season of racing, in the SRL. He has a best finish of second, which he scored at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV), to go along with three top-10 finishes. Like his father, Cole has finished every race this season, and has only one DNF in his 12 career starts. He currently sits one position in front of his dad in the championship standings, holding down the number six position.
Cole has earned three victories in the PCS, two of them this season. He sits fourth in the series standings, two positions behind his father, despite multiple races with power steering issues, putting him on the sidelines.
Entering the Madera SRL race, Cole is looking forward to the challenges the facility presents.
“I like racing at Madera a lot,” Cole told Speed51.com. “It is a challenging track, even though it is small, because the line is different every time I go there. Some nights the bottom is good, some nights the top is good. You just have to figure out where your car works best, and figure out how you can move forward with that line.”
For both of the Moore’s, racing in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series has been a step up from their previous oval track experiences. For Cole, he enjoys the stiff competition, and ability to compete with other drivers, without a large concern of wrecking.
“I like racing in the SRL, mainly because you are not surprised when anyone in the field is doing well,” Cole began. “They are all very good and experienced drivers. There are 15 guys who could be at the top of the board, and you are not going to look twice at it. It is very competitive, and it makes it that much better when you are doing well. The main thing that stands out for me is that everyone seems to have a pretty good mutual respect for one another, and race everyone clean. You can race somebody hard, and they are not going to wreck, or do something stupid.”
John has raced at various tracks and in different series in the past. He has enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, the variety of racing he participates in. But he recognizes a difference with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, and some of the other forms of racing he has partook in.
“The quality of the machinery is higher across the board. The quality of the drivers, tires and the level of the competition are much stiffer in the SRL. The series is organized and ran really well. It makes you feel like you are a part of something significant and challenging,” John surmised.
As much as the Moore’s enjoy competing in the SRL, the best part of competing on the short tracks is the opportunity to spend time with each other as a family. But just because they are family doesn’t mean they don’t want to beat each other.
“It is awesome to be out there and spend time with him, but on the track to me, it is like racing anyone else,” Cole commented. “We race each other hard. Obviously we have a little bit of caution, and we are not going to wreck each other. I’m a pretty clean racer in general, and I’m not one to really beat on anybody, so I race him just the same as everybody else. Off the track, it is obviously great to spend time with him, but he is just another competitor when the green flag is thrown.”
John feels the same way now that Cole has matured as a driver.
“I love racing with and against Cole,” John began. “It allows me to spend great time and build some great memories with my son. As a driver, he is a mature, high quality, high talented race car driver now. In the beginning, the first two years, I would cut him more slack, but now I race Cole the same way that I would race anybody. But it is really all about the time I get to spend with him.”
Outside of the track, John is even more proud of his 21-year-old son and the person he has become.
I’m really proud of Cole,” John beamed. “He is a young man who will look you in the eye when he talks to you, he is very honest and he is a great student.”
In comparison, Cole sees numerous things in his father that he would like to emulate.
“I love that he is an incredibly hard worker, and that allows us to do what we do,” Cole explained. “It’s great that he is one of the older guys in the SRL, and he is still loving it and still doing it. I hope when I get to be his age, I still have the drive and energy to get out there, and do what he does.”
Both father and son are having good seasons in the SRL, but both of them would like to be a little higher in the championship standings.
“My goal is to be in the top-five no matter what I do in racing,” John described. “The car problems we had at Irwindale really gave us a poor finish (26th), so I’m not really meeting my expectations. We have a few races left, and hopefully we can work our way into the top five, and meet my goal.”
Cole began, “I set pretty high expectations for myself, just because I know my ability and what I can do. But it is a team sport, so everything has got to jive. We have had some mechanicals this year, dealing with the new car. And the competition is pretty high in the SRL. I’d like to be sitting in Jeremy Doss’ position, as far as the points lead, but I’m happy we are leading the Rookie-of-the-Year standings. Next year, I hope to take home the championship.”
With both Moore’s having such competitive personalities, it only begs to question which Moore is the better short track driver. If you ask them, you would get two different answers, and that is not a surprise.
“Oh man, that’s a tough one,” Cole volunteered. “I think I’m better. I just think that I race a little bit better. He definitely has a lot of experience, but I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve had a good mentor with him. I think I started at a young age, and that has made my skills refined. I definitely have to say that I’m the better one.”
“Oh wow, basically on my experience I would have to say that I get the nod there,” John replied. “If you get a ride that handles well, he can do great things with it. The same thing can be said of me.”
If you look at the tale of the tape, both drivers have a career average finish of 11.4 in the SRL. Saturday, September 29thwill be the tie breaker for the JM Environmental, Thryv, Mike Naake prepared Chevrolet drivers, so let the best Moore win.
This will be the 40thevent for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series at Madera Speedway. It is the most appearances at any track for the series. The SRL will join the Legends of the Pacific, USAC Western States Midgets, CSS/360 Super Modifieds, Madera Hobby Stocks and the Legends of the Kearney Bowl. Practice for the SRL begins at 2:40pm, with Qualifying and Heat Races, for all other divisions, beginning at 3: 45pm. SRL Qualifying is scheduled for 6:20pm, with Opening Ceremonies slated for 7:00pm. The “SPEARS Southwest Tour 125 presented by 51 FIFTY Energy Drink” is scheduled to roll off at 9:00pm.
-Story and Photo By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Editor