Super Late Model rookie Gabe Sommers of Plover, WI will throw his hat into the ring and compete in the World Series of Asphalt Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in February. The seven races in nine days will more than triple the number of Super Late Model races the 14-year-old diver has under his belt.
“I didn’t get to run (the Super Late Model) that much, so we’ll be starting off with not much experience,” Sommers told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’re just going to take it slow from the first couple of races and then get stronger every race and try and feel out the Late Model a little bit more.”
Sommers finished fifth in the Midwest Truck Series and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 with one win and two top-five finishes. He then got behind the wheel of a Super Late Model for the first time at the end of the season, qualifying third and finishing 10th at Golden Sands Speedway (WI). The young driver had hopes of racing Oktoberfest, but rain washed out the first two nights and he came up just short of making the field for the Oktoberfest 200.
“Not getting on the track at all those first two days hurt us,” Sommers stated. “We planned to do the Futures Feature and Trickle 99 and really could have used the seat time before the Midwest Tour race.”
Now the Wisconsin driver looks to get a jump on the 2018 season and make the 24-hour drive to New Smyrna Beach, Florida for Speedweeks. With so many races packed into just over a week’s worth of time, Sommers thinks taking that time to get more comfortable in a Super Late Model will pay dividends when he returns to the Midwest to race.
“Getting to start off the season really early and getting a bunch of seat time in a short amount of time is really a reason we decided to make the trip,” Sommers explained. “I think it’ll help a lot just to get going because we are going to race a couple different series, so we’ll be able to start off the season in Wisconsin well right away. Instead of learning in the series we can start learning down there and trying stuff out.”
While Sommers’ seat time has been limited and this marks his first trip to New Smyrna Speedway, he hopes the track might be somewhat familiar. In preparation, he’s been putting in a lot of time on iRacing and feels that will help with the learning curve at a new track.
“I’m expecting really quick racing,” Sommers said. “I’ve never been there before so I don’t really know what the track is like, but I run it on iRacing a lot. It feels really comfortable on iRacing, so I think it’ll be good.”
For the Gabe Sommer Racing Team, the expectations for the week are simple, continue to improve each night.
“The goal is to make every race and finish every race,” he stated. “And then finish every race better than the last one.”
Helping make the long journey worth it is the fact that three family members will be traveling with Sommers as part of his crew. The Wisconsin driver’s cousin, Richard, was a previous race car driver, but there has been a gap in time since he was behind the wheel. When Sommer started racing, there was a lot of excitement within the family to be back in the sport.
“It’s very cool to keep a generation thing like that going,” Sommers said. “It kind of stopped after Richard stopped with his son, but after we got in the Bandolero it just started back up again. They really like it a lot and just can’t believe that it started back up again, it was kind of surprise.”
The 52nd Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing will begin on Friday, February 9. Super Late Models will race on nine different nights including the 100-lap finale on Saturday, February 17.
For more information, visit www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Gabe Sommers Racing Facebook