Just two short years ago, third-generation racer Spencer Morse was toiling away in the Street Stock division like so many other aspiring young drivers within the short track racing fraternity.
On one occasion during the 2014 season, he even flipped his machine onto its roof, yet somehow managed to complete the feature after the beaten, battered war-horse was put back onto its wheels.
With a performance that more closely resembled that of a 10-year veteran of the premier class, Morse capped a 24-month journey to a dream come true (that began when students from Oxford Hills Middle School chose them as his driver) as he held off a hard-charging Tracy Gordon to claim the 50-lap Super Late Model feature Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.
“Through all of the ups and downs, we’ve always had a winning attitude,” an elated Morse said after his win. “That is what earned me this ride in the first place. We’ve managed to instill that attitude in the kids involved with this (Aspire Higher) program, and the core group knew we would get here some day. To be able to reward their efforts and to please our great sponsors makes me so proud. This truly is a dream come true for me here tonight.”
During their debut effort in Oxford’s ultra-competitive Super Late Model division, things didn’t really unfold the way the Aspire Higher gang had planned. A series of mechanical gremlins and accidents not of their own making led to less-than-impressive finishes for the No. 0 entry. As the 2015 season drew to a close, they began to make progress.
“We started to show some good speed late last season, and I thought we might be drawing a bit closer,” Morse continued. “When we hit the track for our first race this year, we ended up all but totaled down there in Turn 1. In our second outing, the car was better in the rain than it was on dry pavement. And today, I thought I was going to get lapped in my heat race we were so bad. I was struggling to turn a 16.4; but tonight, in the feature, I think we were closer to a 15.4.”
That kind of turnaround in a race car’s ability to grip the track doesn’t happen by luck. It takes the right adjustments to key suspension components (among other things) done by somebody with the skills and experience to perform them. For Spencer Morse and his Aspire Higher race team, that man is Mitch Green, of Crazy Horse Racing.
“I’m starting to grasp what these cars are trying to do,” Morse explained. “Mitch continues to work with me and use his vast knowledge to help me as a driver. When you look at two of the top three cars here tonight, you see the Crazy Horse Racing logo prominently displayed. That’s not by coincidence; it’s because Mitch’s cars are state-of-the-art, and he knows how to make them go. I owe a ton to him.”
Former track champion Dennis Spencer Jr. was the third-place car referenced by Morse. Spencer drives what is considered the “house car” at Crazy Horse, which also houses the Richard Moody Racing team for which the father and son duo of Ben and Mike Rowe drive for.
And while the Rowe family has recorded Super Late Model victories up and down the East Coast, the 22-year-old Morse is just thankful to live out his dream as a first-time winner in the competitive division.
“When I look back to those days driving my Street Stock, saving our money and getting the most out of what we had, it makes me smile. But when I look around me tonight and see the excitement on these kids’ faces in Victory Lane, I think of how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I am truly blessed.”
-By Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @PhilWhipple
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Phil Whipple