Dirt Star Chupp Plays Key Role on NASCAR Team
Chupp¿s two racing occupations are normally worlds apart but they will converge when he participates in the May 28-29 Jani-King Southern Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe¿s Motor Speedway. The Saturday night portion of the two-day late model spectacular follows the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, giving Chupp the potential to enjoy two victory celebrations in one day.
¿That would really be something,¿ Chupp said about the possibility of both he and Hamilton Jr. winning on the same day at the same facility. ¿But it¿s always fun for my co-workers at the Busch shop to come out and watch me race.¿
Chupp was born into the sport of dirt late model racing as his father, Gene, was a top competitor on the Alabama short-tracks, winning more than 700 features during a 38-year career.
¿My father built his cars from the ground up. He knew them inside out and upside down,¿ Chupp explained. ¿In order to become a good driver, you must first be a good mechanic.¿
Chupp has experienced the challenges associated with being a second-generation race car driver.
¿I wouldn¿t want to let my father down¿he was a winner,¿ Chupp said. ¿My father didn¿t lead me into racing. He wanted me to realize there was a world outside of racing. But after a while, he realized he couldn¿t stop me from loving the sport so he put me to work in it.¿
Chupp¿s work on his father¿s car eventually earned him a position as a crew chief and he prepared cars for such stars as Freddy Smith, Ronnie Johnson and Jack Boggs.
In 1993, Chupp decided he wanted to follow in his father¿s tire tracks and switched from crew chief to driver. He found immediate success, beating a stellar field of competitors including Scott Bloomquist to win the track championship at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn.
Since that rookie season, Chupp has recorded 53 national event victories, including two in the prestigious National 100 run at East Alabama Motor Speedway, and set 11 tracks records at dirt tracks across the country.
After six years as a full-time driver, Chupp was making a decent living but struggled with the demands of not having a weekly paycheck. It was then he received a phone call from NASCAR Busch Series crew chief Harold Holly, a former rival on the Alabama dirt tracks, about a job in NASCAR racing.
The two ironed out the details and Chupp has worked alongside Holly ever since.
¿When both of us were back in Alabama working on dirt cars, everybody wanted to be Randle Chupp,¿ Holly said. ¿He was the man. He had the most experience at the youngest age and was hanging bodies, working with sheet metal¿you name it, he could do it.¿
Chupp currently drives the No. 114 late model owned by Dick and David McLaughlin of Conneaut, Ohio. The team has a full-time crew that takes care of car preparation, allowing Chupp to concentrate on his NASCAR job during the week and drive the car on weekends.
The team¿s ¿outlaw¿-style schedule takes it to events across the country, but Chupp is happy to be competing close to home in the May 28-29 Jani-King Southern Showdown.
¿I love racing at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway,¿ he said. ¿I get a chance to race at a hometown track in front of a hometown crowd.
¿The track is one of the best facilities in the United States. The lighting is excellent and the clay surface is one of the best in the area,¿ Chubb continued. ¿And they really cater to the fans. If it weren¿t for the fans, we wouldn¿t be here. I think that some of the other dirt tracks could learn a little from The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway in that respect.¿
In addition to two full nights of O¿Reilly Southern All Star Racing Series late model action, the Jani-King Southern Showdown includes the IMCA modifieds on Friday night and concerts by rock group MINIKISS on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Reserved adult tickets are just $18 in advance with children 12 and under admitted for just $5. Adult tickets are $2 more the day of the event. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS.