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CARTERSVILLE, GA (11/16/2019) – “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car!”  This was said by a race car driver on a cool sunny November Sunday afternoon.  While it is not remarakable as to what was said, it was remarkable as to who said it.

               One would think driving for one of the top teams in NASCAR and winning Winston Cup races is fun.  One would think winning USAC National Championships would be fun.  One could also have a good time winning over 40 National Midget races would be a good time.

               He’s a driver that paved the way to NASCAR for dirt track racers that were shunned by the Indy Car owners that were looking for road racers and inexperienced drivers with fat checkbooks.  In 1984, he opened the NASCAR door for dirt track racers like Jeff Purvis, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and many more.

               The amazing thing about this story is that Ken Schrader has done all of the above, and made that statement at Talladega Short Track after stepping out of a Modified Sportsman race car at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, AL on November 10.

               Schrader and Southeastern short track ace Johnny Stokes of Columbus, MS were invited to Talladega Short Track for a pair of races at Talladega Short Track by Mike Vaughn of Cartersville, GA to drive his two Modified Sportsman race cars.  Vaughn is the founder and former owner of Crate Racin’ USA, a sanctioning body that emphisizes economical dirt track racing cars.

               The last Division Vaughn developed before selling Crate Racing USA in January was the Modified Sportsman Division.  When Vaughn decided to write the rulebook for the Division, his first phone call was to his long-time friend Schrader.

               “I told Schrader I didn’t want a $100,000 Modified with an all-aluminum engine and trick suspension,” Vaughn said.  “I wanted to go back to where an average Joe could compete without having to break the bank to do it.  So Schrader said we would go back 33 years and write that Open Wheel Modified rulebook.”

               Schrader went to work with his long time assistant Joe “Soup” Campbell and Vaughn to put together a set of rules.  Vaughn came up with a similar engine package that proved successful in his Street Stock Division that was developed in 2012. 

The Modified Sportsman Division features two different engines; a specially built engine using a two-barrel carburetor, and a steel-head, steel-block Chevrolet Performance 602 Racing Engine costing less than $4,000 that is built and sealed at the factory to prevent expensive modifications.

The engine package and the chassis rules developed by Schrader and Campbell were a perfect match, and a Hoosier H-500 racing tire on all four corners of the car was icing on the cake.  After Vaughn sold Crate Racing USA, he decided to buy a pair of Modified Sportsman race cars powered by the Chevrolet Performance 602 Engine. 

Vaughn enlisted veteran short track racer Don Jenkins of Kingston, GA and veteran crew chief Buster Carden of Jasper, AL to oversee the race team sponsored by Mike Vaughn’s Auto Exchange in Cartersville, GA. 

The team showed up at Talladega Short Track on Novermeber 9 and 10 with the “Geritol Gang” as the drivers.  The 64-year-old Schrader drove the #9 car and the 65-year-old Stokes in the #1 car.  That’s two drivers with a combined age of 129 with over a 100 years of racing experience.

Stokes’ car was in pieces on the floor of Jenkins’ shop three days before the November 9 Saturday night race, but it was precisely put together, as Stokes went out an won the race in the #1 race car with a last lap pass for the victory the first night out.  After coutless wins in Late Models and Street Stocks that included the 2017 Street Stock World Championship, it was Stokes’ first time in a Modified Sportsman race car.

Both Stokes and Schrader are also dirt track owners.  Stokes is part of the ownership group of Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, MS and Schrader is an owner of Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, MO and Macon Speedway in Macon, IL.  They both know the value of an economical and competitive racing Division.

“This was fun and super competitive,” Stokes said.  “We raced side-by-side throughout the field in both races.  I’m adding these cars to the Possum Town Grand Prix at Magnolia Motor Speedway on November 28-30.”

Vaughn will also be at the Possum Town Grand Prix with his two cars.  While Schrader has a prior commitment and can’t make it, Stokes will be back in the #1 car, and veteran Justin Wakefield of Elijay, GA will drive the second car carrying his traditional #17.

Schrader told Vaughn to keep his seat open because he wants to do some more racing in the Modified Sportsman car.  So here’s a guy with close to 50 years as an active race car driver with four Winston Cup wins, a 1982 USAC Silver Crown Championship, a 1983 USAC Sprint Car Championship, and over 40 National Midget victories that wants to add a Modified Sportsman win to his resume.

Schrader finished fourth in both races at Talladega Short Track, so even if he doesn’t win, Ken Schrader will continue to have the most fun he has ever had in a race car.

               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/.