(Editor’s Note: ‘The Rapsheet’ is a new feature on Speed51.com, telling the background of certain personalities within the sport of short track racing. This will be a recurring feature on Speed51.com, giving fans the dirt on the new, the old, and even the forgotten personalities of short track racing.)
Chase Purdy has only run three Late Model Stock Car races in his young career, and he’s already won two of them. That’s a 0.66 winning percentage, which by all accounts is a pretty spectacular and shocking way to start off a career in Late Model racing.
The 16-year-old driver made the jump from Legends cars to Late Models for the 2016 season, partnering with the Hawk-McCall Motorsports team, the same team that won the 2015 CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship. Purdy and Hawk-McCall Motorsports have plans to race full-time with the CARS Tour this year, as well as run for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points.
“When I was in Legends cars I guess Lee McCall saw me race and then we met and that put things in that direction,” Purdy told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He’s got a good team, he’s a great guy and he knows a lot about the sport so we signed on with him.”
Since signing with Hawk-McCall, Purdy has won one Southeast Limited Late Model Series race and two LMSC races, all at South Carolina’s Greenville-Pickens Speedway. In Purdy’s only other Late Model start he finished sixth in the Icebreaker 200 at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
Purdy swept the twin 75-lap races at Greenville this past Saturday night. Trey Gibson crossed the finish line first in the second of the two races, but Gibson’s disqualification in post-race technical inspection handed the win over to Purdy.
The Huntersville, North Carolina driver experienced his fair share of success in Legends cars, but he said nothing he previously accomplished could match the feeling of winning his first Late Model race.
“It was pretty exciting,” Purdy said. “At the time when I won I was all pumped up and stuff. There were no words that are really big enough to describe that moment. It was an unreal moment.”
Purdy didn’t start racing at as young of an age as his peers, but he still got a pretty early start. He started off racing go-karts when he was nine years old, then made a jump into Bandolero cars by the age of 11. After that he made the jump to Legends cars when he was 15. He only ran one year in Legends cars before making the leap to the full-bodied race cars this year.
Since he’s so new to Late Model racing, Purdy said his early success is as surprising to him as it is to everyone else.
“Honestly I didn’t see this coming at all,” he said. “Everybody says how much harder it is in Late Models than Legends cars with all the added weight and stuff. But if you can save your tires well then you’ll be alright.”
As big as Purdy’s weekend was, he said he still had a relatively quiet day at Cox Mill High School in Concord, North Carolina where he’s still a sophomore. But that’s okay by Purdy, because he doesn’t necessarily like to talk about his successes.
“I don’t really like to talk about myself and my accomplishments,” he said. “If people ask then I’ll talk about it, but I don’t bring it up. When you live in a place that is surrounded by the racing community, a few people know. There’s a few people that I go to school with that I used to race with before I even moved to North Carolina or went to the school I go to now. It’s kind of 50-50. Some people know about it and some people don’t.”
If Purdy continues to have the success he’s having now, plenty of people will start to know about it quickly. But the modest Purdy said he just wants to keep learning and getting better as a race car driver.
“I really just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” Purdy said. “I’m off to a really great start. Obviously you can’t win them all. That’s hard to do. But hopefully I can keep winning and learning. I’ve got a lot to learn. I’ve only run a couple of races, so there’s plenty of things I need to learn on my own.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Lee McCall Photo