SOUTH PARIS, Maine – Norway’s Chris Coolidge will be back in the top division at Oxford Plains Speedway in 2013, even as the division itself has undergone offseason changes.
Formerly fielding ACT-legal Late Models at the .375-mile flat oval, new ownership there has revamped the division to be a Pro Late Model – a sort of hybrid blending the former Late Model division with the Super Late Models that compete in the PASS North Series. Coolidge, who earned his first career win in the 2012 season finale at Oxford, is already eager to get back on the track in his No. 72 Crazy Horse Racing chassis.
“It’s not going to be a full-blown Pro Stock. It’s not going to be a lot different,” Coolidge said. “It’s always been my hope to try and be able to run something like that. It’s definitely going to be a learning curve – I still had a lot to learn in a Late Model, and now we’ve even got more to learn. But I still think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Coolidge’s ride won’t be Crazy Horse Racing’s first foray into Super Late Model or Pro Late Model racing. Last October, the chassis builders converted an Austin Theriault Late Model into a PASS-legal car – and Theriault won the PASS 150 at Oxford in a dominant performance.
“That really gave us a lot of confidence,” Crazy Horse Racing owner Mitch Green said. “We always believed that we had good cars and could be competitive at other levels, and Austin’s win proved to us that we were right on track with some of our ideas.”
A wider race tire, different shocks and a more powerful engine are the most significant differences between the previous Late Model class at Oxford and the new Pro Late Model rules.
Coolidge was the 2011 Rookie of the Year at Oxford, and last season he finished a career-best seventh in the final Late Model point standings. He believes having wider tires (10-inch tires as opposed to the 8-inch ones used in the past) and more horsepower under the hood will benefit his race program.
“If it wasn’t for Crazy Horse, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now as a team,” Coolidge said. “They’re just awesome. There’s going to be different things we couldn’t do before (with the new rules), and we’ve got a few ideas of things to try. We’ll just have to see what happens and how it plays out once we do get to the track.
“I’ve never driven a car with ‘fat tires’ on it before. But I think the biggest difference is going to be getting into the corners and having more horsepower. I think it will take a little getting used to, but other than that, it should be about the same.”
Entering the season as the last Late Model winner in Oxford’s long history is a great building block for launching the 2013 campaign.
“It gave me some confidence. I don’t want to make it sound like now that I’ve won a race I think I’m unstoppable, but it does give me confidence,” Coolidge said. “In the second half of last year, we kind of hit a dry spell. To hit it and get it so good for the last race of the season – the car was so awesome, I wished we had more races. I can’t wait to go out there again.”