Patrick Emerling had a year to remember within the asphalt Modified ranks during the 2016 season. Now, the 2016 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour champion is ready to embark on a new adventure that will require him to get his hands a little dirty.


Emerling will look beyond the asphalt in 2017 and embrace another popular form of motorsports in his neck of the woods. The Orchard Park, NY driver and his family are gearing up to take on the Dirt Modified circuit for the very first time.


“It was something we have been talking about the past few years and then every year we just didn’t do it,” Emerling told “This year we put the TQ (Midget) up for sale and we sold it. The TQ was the same price as Mod and we have that car coming.”


Dirt Mods 300x300 (1)Central New York has always been a hotbed for Dirt Modified racing, with various levels of Modifieds running at upwards of a dozen tracks. A majority of the tracks are close to where Emerling lives.


“We’re going to break into it, see if we like it and try something different,” he explained. “Locally it seems that’s where it’s at. There’s higher purses, a ton of competition and it’s got fans. Up in New England there’s more of the SK or Tour kind of thing. Where I’m located there’s more to the dirt scene than the asphalt scene. I think there’s 10 tracks within two hours of me.”


Emerling plans to run mainly at the local Freedom Motorsports Park (NY) in the track’s Modified division running Small Block rules and may look elsewhere down the road.


“Freedom is right down the road for me and they are opening up the Modified division,” Emerling stated. “They have a Sportsman division now, but it gives me an opportunity to put in one of my old asphalt Tour motors in and run it to get our feet wet.”


But Emerling has no plans to back off from his asphalt schedule which will revolve mainly around the Race of Champions and big local events. The 14-time asphalt Modified winner in 2016 plans to keep the dirt business light for now while becoming accustomed to the game.


“Next season we’ll probably run a handful of races here and there since our asphalt schedule is about 35 races give or take,” he explained. “We’ll probably fit about eight to ten dirt races or so depending on when we’re running. We just want to try it and be competitive.”


While Emerling’s time on the dirt is very limited, he knows how much fun it can be. That is the part he’s most looking forward to.


“My only experience on dirt is when I used to race Motocross before I got into running open wheel stuff. I did hop in a 360 Sprint Car once and that was the most fun I ever had driving a race car. I’ve been trying to run dirt again ever since then.”


-Story by Connor Sullivan, CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Photo Credit:

RoC Asphalt Modified Champ Set for Dirt Mod Debut in 2017