As for the appointed venue, it’s the world-famous Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for the North/South Super Late Model Challenge, the traditional tri-sanctioned points race for the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Super Late Model Tour, and Southern Super Series.
Watch Live: North/South SLM Challenge at Nashville
“We talked about doing a few races and this is the first time it fit perfectly,” Benjamin said. “We’ll see what happens, I’m excited to go to Nashville for a fun weekend.”
Even before stepping back from the NASCAR Cup Series full-time after the 2020 season, the GoFas Racing team has dabbled with various Super Late Model events, including the Oxford 250 with Derek Ramstrom as well as the Snowball Derby and Rattler 250 with Grant Enfinger.
Benjamin has put in work with the team, helping to crew the car at the Snowball Derby for Enfinger last winter. Add to that some time with GoFas crew chief Mike Shelton helping out the No. 7 Petit Racing team last month at Hickory Motor Speedway, and you have a combination that’s ready to test out its relationship on the track.
“They haven’t had the same driver week-in and week-out, which might’ve hurt them a little bit. So, it was nice to work with those guys down at the Snowball Derby with Grant Enfinger and Mike Shelton the crew chief, and of course Archie St. Hilaire. Then Mike coming over to help us out at Hickory, so it was nice to work with him knowing that this deal was coming up, so he knows what I’m looking for. Great to work with him with all the success he’s had.”
Naturally, having his first chance to race in at Nashville has Benjamin very excited.
“I’ve been watching some old videos from back in the day of the Cup Series there with Waltrip and all those guys. It’ll be cool to see that place and experience the history, Oxford is kind of the same way. It’s cool to check places off and say that we’ve raced there.” – Travis Benjamin
Benjamin is also ready for the opportunity to race against a great national cast of drivers which will come from the three Super Late Model series, as well as a few ringers like himself.
“Besides guys like Matt Craig and Kodie Conner, I’ve never really raced against a lot of those guys. It’s always fun to race against different people and see how you stack up.”
Perhaps most exciting of all for Benjamin is the opportunity to race with a built engine rather than a crate engine, which has become favored in the Northeast the past decade due to its affordability, and at times superiority at some of the Northeast’s many bullrings.
“I can’t wait to race with a big motor, to see if I can still do it,” Benjamin said. “I think it’s been since the 2014 Oxford 250, the first two 250’s we won, we were one of the few with built motors back then, might’ve raced it in 2015 a couple times. It’s been five or six years now. The last time I raced a built motor at Thompson, it was me, Kenny Wallace, Jimmy Spencer, and Cassius (Clark) all racing for the lead, and that was when we had 580 horsepower, that was like 2012.
“I had so much fun with those big motors on big tracks. Now the crate motors on big tracks aren’t as much fun for me anymore. You got to drive it differently. So, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly I can remember how to drive with one of those.”
Ever the competitor, Benjamin is gunning for the winner’s check and trophy. But, he is remaining realistic, with the main goal of the weekend to savor the opportunity and lay the ground work for future outings in the No. 32.
“Everywhere I go, the goal is to win. But, obviously we got a lot of hurdles to jump. A track I’ve never been too, I car I’ve never been in, and not racing with the built motor. It’ll be tough, but I just want to have fun and enjoy it. I’m thankful to Archie for the opportunity, we’ll look to have a good time, bring the car home in one piece, and see if we can’t do it again some time.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to Nashville with Benjamin will be able to watch Saturday race live on Speed51.TV with a monthly or yearly subscription. Click here to subscribe today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51