Crate Racin' USA's first champion

MUTUAL PRIDE FOR CHAMPION SLAYTON AND CRATE RACIN' USA TAMPA, FL - Denny Slayton of Rossville, GA is just as proud to be the 2005 Crate Racin' USA National Champion, as the series is to have him as their first champion. ...


TAMPA, FL - Denny Slayton of Rossville, GA is just as proud to be the 2005 Crate Racin' USA National Champion, as the series is to have him as their first champion. Slayton will defend his title in 2006 under the new series banner, the Dirt Late Model Series Powered By Crate Racin' USA.

When Mike Vaughn founded Crate Racin' USA early this year, it was drivers like Slayton he had in mind, who could benefit most from the concept. The concept of Crate Racin' USA is quite simple: Take a dirt late model chassis, and power it with an economical factory-built sealed engine right out of the crate for one-tenth the cost of an open dirt late model engine.

This fit right into Slayton's budget, and for the first time in his 30-year career, gave him an opportunity to compete for points in a traveling dirt late model series.

Slayton comes from a racing family that started with his Grandfather Paul Slayton over 50 years ago, and then on to his Father Pete Slayton. Denny Slayton began his acing career in the mid-1970s competing in the Hobby class, which evolved into the Sportsman class, and by the mid-1980s, the third-generation driver moved into the Late Model Division.

Throughout his career, Slayton raced close to home around the Chattanooga, TN area. When he started out his career in the Hobby cars, there were a couple of other drivers that started out with him named Dale McDowell and Skip Arp. Both McDowell and Arp went on to gain national fame in dirt late model racing, while Slayton stayed close to home.

Even though the name Denny Slayton may not be very well known to dirt late model fans across the country, they will hear more about Slayton and drivers just like him during the 2006 Dirt Late Model Series season.

"We're proud to have a driver like Denny Slayton, and what he represents, as the defending Dirt Late Model Series National Champion," Crate Racin' USA President Roby Helm said. "Denny Slayton represents grass roots weekly weekend warrior racers all over the country, who now have an opportunity to compete for a national championship on a limited budget."

Before this season, Slayton had a pair of dirt late model track championships at Boyd's Speedway, which later became known as Tennessee-Georgia Speedway.

"Crate Racin' USA gave me an opportunity to race in a traveling series, and winning the championship is a proud moment in my career," Slayton said. "I started racing at the same time and at the same tracks that Dale McDowell and Skip Arp did, but I just never had the opportunity, or the finances to do what they did in their careers."

McDowell won the 1999 Hav-A-Tampa National Dirt Late Model Championship, and has won some of the nation's most premier events in the sport. Arp has also won many national shows in dirt late model racing.

"McDowell and Arp race late models powered by $40,000 to $50,000 engines," Slayton said. "Their monthly tire bill costs more than my crate engine that I ran all year. That's what is so great about Crate Racin' USA. I won the championship using a five-year-old race car, and one $4,800 engine."

During the 2005 Crate Racin' USA season, Slayton had two top five finishes, and four top ten finishes in nine starts.

"We were competitive all season, and even though we didn't win any races, we were in contention to win some of those races," Slayton said. "Not only is Crate Racin' USA economical to run, it is also very competitive. We went into the last race of the season with six different drivers in a position to win the championship."

Slayton is in Tampa, FL for two reasons this week. He will be honored as the 2005 Crate Racin' USA National Champion on Wednesday night at the Wyndham Harbor Island Hotel, and then is on to East Bay Raceway Park for the $10,000-to-win Jasper Engines Crate Racin' USA World Championship Race Presented By American Race Tire.

As the purse goes up, so does the competition. Slayton will be competing against the likes of super late model champions like Clint Smith of Senoia, GA, Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN, Joe and Steve Kosiski of Omaha, NE, Shane Tankersley of Morganton, GA, Marshall Green of Dalton, GA, Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN, and Hall of Famer Jeff Purvis of Clarksville, TN.

Also add to the list NASCAR Nextel Cup star Ken Schrader of Fenton, MO, and Slayton's old Hobby Stock rival Arp of Georgetown, TN. Slayton is impressed with the competition, but not intimidated.

"There are some good drivers with big national reputations coming to Tampa this weekend, but the Crate Racin' USA concept keeps the playing field level," Slayton said. "We've all got the same engines, and the same tires. I'm exciting about racing against this level of competition. I got to race with Johnson and Purvis all of last season, and the things you can learn from these guys is priceless."

Helm couldn't agree more with Slayton about the concept of the Dirt Late Model Series Powered By Crate Racin' USA in keeping a level playing field.

"A few years ago there was a lot of talk about taking open dirt late model racing 'to the next level' and I was a part of that," Helm said. "When we got there, all I saw was a lot of greed, big talk from inexperienced people, and only a few teams that could afford to go to that level of competition."

Helm said he had to jump off a sinking ship, and walk away from the sport of dirt late model racing to see where it was going.

"I was away from dirt late model racing for a couple of years, but while I was gone, I still tried to keep up with what was going on," Helm said. "I wasn't hearing a lot of positive things about open dirt late model racing from both promoters and competitors, but they kept telling me positive things about the crate engines.

"I know from experience there are only a handful of teams that can travel with unlimited funds to pay for open engines and tires, and there were only a few tracks able to support them," Helm said. "But there are hundreds of Denny Slaytons out there looking for an opportunity to compete for a national championship, and the Dirt Late Model Series Powered By Crate Racin' USA provides that opportunity at a price that most tracks can afford."

So Denny Slayton, a weekend warrior from Rossville, GA, will proudly carry the torch for the "little-guy-grass-roots-racer" in 2006, while the Dirt Late Model Series Powered By Crate Racin' USA looks for the next unknown driver from a weekly track near you, to step forward and become the next torch barer.


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Series Stock car
Drivers Ken Schrader , Jeff Purvis , Jimmy Owens