The Bullring at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) on Saturday night saw several features with some of the up-and-coming young stars in NASCAR racing, but none more exciting than the last race of the night where the young rising star, Chris Trickle, took third place in the Super Late Model Series race. Chris is a 14-year-old young man, but you would never have known that to see him race in this feature. Only his second race in the No. 70 Late Model, he handled it like a professional. Watching the features for these series, often you will find many young drivers who move up, winning races on a mixture of youthful recklessness and intimidation. That is not the case with Chris Trickle. This young man has all of the confidence, but also all of the control and skill one might find in a much older driver. His performance on Saturday evening made it clear that he is not just a flash in the pan, soon to hit his ceiling. Trickle is the real deal, with a real future in NASCAR.
The Super Late Model feature had a field of experienced drivers, which made for a hotly contested race. Although the number of competitors has dwindled somewhat over the last few years, LVMS is still one of the better destinations for these NASCAR features, and the level of competition is still very high. This is the track that young drivers come to in order to prove themselves. For fans of NASCAR, these races provide an affordable opportunity to see the rise of young drivers in an environment which provides the kind of access to the racing teams that helps to generate excitement in the next generation of racers. The “Kids Candy Toss Night” on Saturday allowed children attending to walk down on the track and see all of the cars, and to meet and get autographs from all of the drivers. It is the kind of event that mirrors some of the advertising NASCAR has done this year which is geared toward that next generation. The crowd surrounding the No. 70 car during the autograph session on the track on Saturday was evidence that the sport has found in him a driver able to excite and inspire young people to follow the sport.
Watching Trickle on the track racing provides inspiration on a different level. One of the things that keeps even veteran NASCAR fans glued to their seats is following the improvement and increase in racing acumen of this young man. The difference between his last Late Model race to this one was an indication that he is serious about learning and getting better. He is hungry for a win. The word that springs to mind almost immediately watching him race is “fearless.” It is not the recklessness that is seen in many of the young drivers, but rather a real racing instinct. For most of the last half of the race he was repeatedly challenged for position by French driver Romain Thievin in the No. 9 car, but Trickle held his spot and was not shaken at all. Watching him gain ground, it seems likely that with another few laps, he could well have taken the lead altogether. It was an impressive third-place finish, but clearly just a taste of things to come in the rise of this young driver through the NASCAR ranks. Chris Trickle is a name that is going to be around for a long time in this sport.
Commentary by Jim Malone
Live viewing of LVMS races 9/13/14