Joined: 16 Jun 2016
|Posted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:31 pm Post subject: Mike Vaughn Goes Back To The Future In Racing
|CARTERSVILLE, GA – Mike Vaughn goes back to the future in his racing career tonight at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL. For the past 15 years, Vaughn was the Founder and CEO of Crate Racin’ USA. Before that, Vaughn owned dirt late model race cars, and tonight he will return to that part of motorsports in a Division that he created two years ago.
Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange Racing is building a team of economical Modified Sportsman race cars powered by Chevrolet Performance 602 Circle Track Engines. Vaughn has recruited two of his former drivers from 15 years ago to wheel the first two of three Modified Sportsman race cars in the Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange Racing stable.
Justin Wakefield of Ellijay, GA and Derrick Smith of Cartersville, GA will drive cars number 1 and 2 respectively. The Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange Racing Team will be overseen by a veteran of North Georgia racing veterans, Don Jenkins, who is the Crew Chief for Wakefield and Smith. Motorsports veteran Buster Carden is a consultant for the team.
The number 1 Mike’s Vaughn Auto Exchange Special for Wakefield has been tested and is ready to go for tonight’s race at Talladega Short Track. Wakefield hasn’t raced competitively for seven years, but after testing earlier this week, he’s ready to go and have some fun dirt track racing.
“These Modified Sportsman cars are a real treat to drive,” Wakefield said. “The team is meshing well together, and it’s great to work with Don Jenkins. He’s a real wheel man and he knows what driver wants and needs in his race car. Everyone involved with this team have smiles on their faces and are having fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
Wakefield is a 38-year-old third-generation racer. His dad started him out racing as a teenager at Dixie Speedway with a home-built 1970 Chevy Nova, and he drove super Late Models for Vaughn over 15 years ago. After Vaughn transformed from car owner to racing series owner, Wakefield took over the driving duties in asphalt Late Model racing for the legendary Jody Ridley.
Smith is a 43-year-old driver that brings a helmet full of experience to Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange Racing in many different forms of racing. From racing Go-Karts, to Drag Racing cars, to Road Racing Car, to Dirt Track cars, Smith has been able to bring a little bit from each genre of the sport to racing a Modified Sportsman.
Smith drove the first race car powered by a Chevrolet Performance 604 Circle Track Engine at Dixie Speedway. The engine was designed to give racers an affordable racing engine. The 604 is a 400 horsepower steel-block aluminum-head engine used in Late Models and the 602 engine used in the Modified Sportsman cars is a 350 horsepower steel block steel-head engine. Smith will be returning to something he helped pioneer.
“I started racing Go-Karts on the dirt when I was ten-years-old and I drag raced from 1994 to 2004,” Smith said. “My drag racing experience helped me develop a feel for tire shake when the rear tires broke loose and how to use the throttle to control it. The first time I drove for Mike at Dixie Speedway was the first time I drove a Late Model on dirt. We competed with the more powerful Sportsman cars and we ran third!”
The team will be headquartered out of Jenkins’ shop in Kingston, GA. Jenkins has been busy getting the two cars ready, with the number 1 car being prepared for racing this weekend, and the #2 cars nearing completion. Jenkins is impressed with the simplicity of working on the Modified Sportsman race cars
“I am really impressed with the simple design of these race cars,” Jenkins said. “These Modified Sportsman cars are not complicated and they are easy to work on. These are great race cars for someone that is starting out in racing to learn on. I got to drive the number 1 car at the test session, and I was surprised as to how fast they are and a lot of fun to drive.”
Vaughn announced in January that he had sold Crate Racin’ USA to a group of investors and stepped away from his role as CEO from a company he built from the ground up. Over 15 years, one Late Model Division grew into three more Divisions, the Street Stocks, the Late Model Sportsman, and in 2018 the Modified Sportsman Division became the Division.
All four Crate Racin’ USA Divisions were developed around the Chevrolet Performance 604 and 602 Racing Engines. Vaughn made Crate Racin’ USA America’s Leader In Racing and made it affordable to everyone. That included racers that had left the sport due to rising costs, and new racers that could now begin their careers without having to make a big investment.
“Since I left Crate Racin’ USA, I’ve been selling cars like candy bars here at Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange, but I really missed being around racing,” Vaughn said. “I wanted to go racing again, have fun doing it, and not have to spend a fortune to do it. That’s why I created the Modified Sportsmen Division, and I decided to put the band back together. I’m excited to go racing again with Justin Wakefield, Derrick Smith, and my good friends Don Jenkins and Buster Carden.”
Vaughn said a third Modified Sportsman car will be added to the Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange Racing stable in the near future with a multi-driver lineup that will include Ken Schrader of Fenton, MO, Jenkins, and other drivers to be announced.
“Ken Schrader is not only a race car driver, but he is also a race track promoter,” Vaughn said. “When I thought about developing an affordable Modified for Crate Racin’ USA, I called Schrader and he helped us write the rulebook for what we have today with the Modified Sportsman. Schrader went back to a rules package from 30 years ago, and it still works today.”
Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange offers wide variety of quality pre-owned vehicles at affordable prices with easy payment plans. Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange is located at 749 Burnt Hickory Road in Cartersville, GA. For more information call 770-382-0515, or visit their web site at www.mikesautoexchange.com, or Like their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MikeVaughnsAutoExchange/.