Chris King was the big winner at Illiana Motor Speedway last year, taking the checkered flag in a dozen feature races at the Schererville speedway in the Legends division, mostly dominating the class on the quarter-mile paved track. The Kouts resident claimed the overall division title, winning his third Legends championship of his career.
But this season finds the 34-year-old King pretty much a rookie in Illiana’s Late Model division, as he will wheel the S4 Motorsports Impala SS No. 25 full-time, racing at speeds over 100 miles per hour on Illiana’s half-mile asphalt oval. Having driven a Late Model in competition a few times previously at Illiana, King said he looks forward to the challenge of Late Model racing.
“It’s a learning curve for sure,” King said. “I’m kind of getting use to everything. I’ve been jelling with the team. We’ve spent some late nights in the garage, but we are beginning to figure some things out.”
King’s championship-winning Legends car was a 132-horsepower, 73-inch wheelbase racer, weighing in at 1300 pounds with driver. A Legends car is a 5/8s-scale, fiberglass body, racer that resembles a 1930s/40s coupe or sedan.
King’s ride this year is a full-size racing machine, sporting an engine producing almost 500-horsepower. A built-for-racing Late Model has a fiberglass/aluminum body on a 103-inch wheelbase chassis, weighing around 2750 pounds with driver.
“The biggest difference is the weight,” King said, comparing the two race cars. “The Late Model weighs so much more than a Legends car. The horsepower is substantially more, but then you have a bigger (wider) racing tire that gives you a lot more grip.
“I need to get use to how wide the (Late Model) car is and judge where the outside wall is. The other thing is the technical side – tires, springs and shocks. The speed is pretty much relative. Everything around you is going that speed.
"I feel good in the car. I’m looking forward to the season, having some fun and keeping the fenders on it.”
A machinist by trade, King and his wife, Holly, have two children, Bryce and Madalyn. King got off to a good start in Late Model, finishing fifth in the 30-lap feature race last Saturday night, Illiana’s season-opener.
DON'T FORGET THE DIRT: Dirt track racing is in full swing in the area with Illinois’ Kankakee County Speedway slated to host its season-opening program tonight.
Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, Plymouth Speedway and the recently reopened Daugherty Speedway near Chase all present dirt track racing on Saturday night.
Longtime NASCAR stock car driver Kenny Schrader is scheduled to compete at Kankakee tonight and at Plymouth on Saturday in the DIRTcar United Midwestern Promoters Modified division action.
SPEAKING OF DAUGHERTY: The newly renamed Daugherty track had been closed since 2009 when the last race was held.
Mike Daugherty is the new owner of the facility, which opened in 1967 as the Henry’s Speedway, named for then owner, Avery Henry, a local furniture store proprietor. The speedway has had a number of name changes over the years and for a period of time was paved.