(article and photos by Chris Roy – RPM)
Here it is, the beginning of a new year and like everyone else, I long for the heat of summer and the excitement of the race track. During the long cold winter, I anticipate the sights and the smells of being at the race track that every true race fan will appreciate! I recently had the opportunity to talk with Chuck Lachance and to find out how he first got into what has turned out to be quite a successful hobby.
Chuck Lachance is from the coastal town of Cushing, Maine. He first began racing in 1987. When asked how he got his start he stated, “I always knew from when I was a little boy that I wanted to be a race car driver. The chance came to race after my brother Scott started racing in 1986, and I started helping him. With me being around the track all the time, an old friend that was there and owned a race car offered me the chance to drive his car the next year. The rest is history you might say”. That year Chuck started racing at Wiscasset raceway in the Limited Sportsman Division.
The following year Chuck was off to a terrific sophomore year having won the Limited Sportsman Championship at Unity Raceway in 1988 finishing in the top 3, 18 times in 21 races. The success continued when Chuck won the Limited Sportsman Championship at Wiscasset Raceway and the Long John 100 at Unity Raceway, both in 1991. The following years saw Chuck winning 4 Limited Sportsman 100 lap races in a row at Wiscasset Raceway 1993 -1994. He also won 2 Summer Sizzler Series 100 lap races in 1996 at Wiscasset and Speedway 95.
Lately, Chuck has been driving the #38 Fuller Auto Mall Chevy Impala SS. With the 2009 season a matter of months away, I asked what his plans were for this season. He said, “I believe that I am going to remain teamed up with Bub Raven and driving his car at Wiscasset Raceway full time again for the 2009 season”. I then inquired as to how Chuck came up with his team name Last Chance Racing. He replied, “I had a very good friend and mentor in business, Roger Street that was helping our racing effort with advice and monetary contributions. On his suggestion we decided to incorporate the race team, so I put it out to the team at the time what they wanted to name the team, they are really the ones that named the team. If you take LACHANCE and just add the small st in the name you came out with LAst CHANCE Racing. I really don't think it had anything to do with my age?!”
With the success that Chuck has had with racing at Wiscasset Raceway I asked him if there was one thing he would suggest as an improvement for that track he stated, “.I just ask that we have a set of rules, whatever they may be. That everyone has to adhere to them so that it is a level playing field for everyone that tries to compete. If you are caught not playing by the rules, that you are penalized appropriately for the infraction, and that it is the same for every competitor. Other than that, anything that makes it a better experience for the fans that come to support the track and there favorite driver. Without the fans, we would have absolutely nothing to race for”!
I asked Chuck his thoughts on the short track series. He felt, “The pros of racing on the PASS Tour is obviously the quality of the drivers that you are competing against and the longer races give you more time to get a better finishing position. The cons are the expense of trying to compete at that level along with the commitment of time that you have to have from every member of the crew to be competitive at that level. Saturday night racing you are racing with a lot of rookies and people that do not have the resources to have all the best equipment, also the races are shorter so the competition has less time to try to make it to the front of the field which in turn makes certain drivers be more aggressive trying to get to the front. Also when you race at one track every weekend you are not always changing the set up of the car for a different track every week which makes it a lot easier on the team. Either way you do it,it is still great to be able to race no matter where it is. Racing is racing whether it is Saturday nights at the local track, or traveling all over the country to do it. Everyone has a right to try to do their best while they are out there and be proud that they are able to do it”.
With all the wins at Wiscasset I asked Chuck what his most memorable race moment was. Understandably it was the Oxford 250. He recalled, “. I love all the tracks that I have had the opportunity to race at, they all have different challenges that you have to adapt to. That is one of the fun things about racing with the PASS Tour. My favorite race was always the Oxford 250. We had some pretty good luck at being able to qualify for the race each year so that was a lot of fun. We have had the chance to race with some pretty big names in the racing game at the Oxford 250. The most memorable for me would have to be the qualifying race where I started on the pole with Denny Hamlin on the outside of me and I beat him on the start and went on to win the qualifier, not without some contact between the two of us. Obviously I came out on top of the contact!” Chuck also mentioned, “I also want to say that all the years having my son Adam helping with the race car and also becoming the crew chief on the race team has been PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!”
When I asked him if he thought the economy was going to effect this year’s season he said, “the cost of traveling and competing on the PASS Series had already taken a toll on the LaChance Racing team budget. If it had not been for Bub Raven offering Adam and I the opportunity to team up with his team we would have already been out of the racing business. As we all know the economy has not helped automobile sales for the last few years, so really the gas prices had little effect on our situation”.
Thankfully, in recent weeks the gas prices has started to come down and let’s hope this is a continuing trend so that we can all get out there and enjoy our favorite summertime sport!