Veteran John Sossoman Eyes First Summer Shootout Title
Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks has never met Legends Car racer John Sossoman.
At an age when most men would prefer a leisurely game of golf or a quiet night at home, 49-year-old Sossoman zooms around the frontstretch quarter-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, chasing his first Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout championship.
The Concord, N.C., resident races his white and red No. 14 Legends Car against other elder statesmen-drivers ages 40 and over-each Tuesday night in the Coke Classic Masters division.
"Racing Legends Cars is a great thing for someone like me who just wants to have a good time, be competitive and try to win," Sossoman said. "I like to win at whatever I do. I don't get mad if I don't win, but I like to win."
Despite his desire for victories, beating the competition isn't the only reason Sossoman enjoys the 10-week series.
"I have tons of friends who come here and I've met a bunch of other people who I do things with. I've gone on deep sea fishing trips and motorcycle rides with people that I've met here," he said. "It's a great place for friendship."
Sossoman, a 13-year Summer Shootout veteran, is having one of his best seasons. With three feature victories and four second-place finishes in the first eight races, Sossoman is battling longtime rival Clay Hair for the division title.
"Chris Rogers has been helping me set up my car this year and he's doing a really good job," Sossoman explained. "I still own my own car, but Chris is just taking care of it for me, bringing it back and forth from the track and stuff. It makes it kind of easy for me, I just show up with a helmet and I'm ready to go."
A self-described "kid with a need for speed," Sossoman grew up racing drag cars and motorcycles, but it wasn't until he attended a NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway that he discovered Legends Car racing.
"I came to watch the Coca-Cola 600 and saw the Legends Car race.
That was when Legends Cars were still relatively new," Sossoman said. "I told myself, 'that looks like fun,' and I went out and bought one. I didn't have a clue about it, but I learned as I went along and started winning."
In fact, he started winning at a rapid rate. Sossoman now has the third most victories in Summer Shootout history, 22, and he's also captured a Legends Car national championship.
Sossoman, who co-owns Carolina Fire Control, which installs fire sprinklers in large buildings, says he's ready to battle Hair to the final checkered flag of the season.
"We will just have to wait and see how it's going to turn out,"
Sossoman said. "Three years ago Clay and I won all 10 races. I won six and he won four, so we are in the position to win all 10 again. The competition makes it fun, but each week I just wish everyone the best on the track."
Often called "The Crazy Old Men of Racing," Sossoman takes no offense to the nickname bestowed on those racing in the Coke Classic Masters division. Instead, he prefers to let his on- track actions speak for themselves.
"I used to be one of the younger kids when I first started running the Masters division," Sossoman said. "I moved up from the Pro division, so I was kind of a kid. That was eight years ago, so I guess I'm getting on up there with the old group. But I don't act old and I don't race like I'm old."
The 10-race Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 12.
Admission is just $7 for adults. Children 6-12 are admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:15 p.m.
Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m.
For information, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit us online.