North Carolina driver dominates late model field during Hell Tour stop at Adams County Speedway


Max McLaughlin, a late model driver from Mooresville, N.C., celebrates in victory lane after winning Wednesday night's Hell Tour stop at Adams County Speedway. | Addi Zanger photo

QUINCY — Max McLaughlin is relatively young and inexperienced when it comes to the world of super late model racing.

But he’s a quick learner, evidenced by his victory Wednesday night at Adams County Speedway in the UMP DIRTCar Summer Nationals event — “The Hell Tour” — before a turnout of 2,615 fans at 8000 Broadway.

A native of Mooresville, N.C., the 24-year-old McLaughlin maneuvered to the front of the field early in the 30-lap feature and led the final 24 circuits for his first Hell Tour victory in his first season as a full-time late model driver. He also ended the four-feature win streak of series points leader Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, who finished seventh.

Admittedly, McLaughlin, who earned $5,000 for the victory, learned a lot along the way to that first tour victory. That included an up-close-and-personal experience of how to handle an extremely dry/slick track — one that has a substantial amount of rubber on it.

“I really haven’t run in the rubber in a late model before, so it was kind of new to me trying to figure out how to make it turn and not overdrive,” McLaughlin said. “Getting the lead that early can cause some problems. I knew I just had to keep it straight.”

McLaughlin’s national-level racing dossier also includes work in the World of Outlaws late model series, plus a handful of starts in the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck series, ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He’s the son of former NASCAR Busch Series driver Mike “Magic Shoes” McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, who had his most success running a high line, held off fast-charging and eventual runner-up Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., during the closing laps. McLaughlin crossed the finish line 0.479 of a second ahead of Feger.

“I knew I had to keep it straight,” McLaughlin said. “I saw (Feger) under me at the end and I knew I had to protect the bottom to hold him off. The car was really finicky. I learned a lot that race.”

Rounding out the top five were Clayton Stuckey of Shreveport, La.,, Daryn Klein of Fairview Heights, Ill., and Will Roland of Jasper, Ga..

The top local finishers were Justin Reed of Camp Point in 12th place and Rickey Frankel of Quincy in 14th place. Frankel also won the Last-Chance Showdown to earn one of the 22 feature positions.

Heat winners were McLaughlin, Feger, Klein and Garrett Smith of Madison, Ga.

Among the 32 late model drivers were entries representing 10 states, Australia and Canada.

Long finds familiar victory lane 

Michael Long of Fowler pocketed $1,500 in winning his ninth career Hell Tour feature in the modifieds with a 0.491-of-a-second victory over Tyler Nicely of Owensboro, Ky., who won a pair of main events in Quincy in 2022.

Long arguably knew his way around the .295-mile track better than any other driver in the pits.

“I just grew up racing here,” he said. “This is where I started racing. I lived like 5 miles from here and just got a lot of laps around here.”

Long was Quincy’s modified track champion three times, winning titles in 2015, 2008 and 2007, but since 2017, he has run more of a regional schedule. Long still holds the track record for most modified feature wins in a season with16 in 2007.

Starting fourth in a 22-car feature field, Long climbed to second place by the second lap. Long was able to get past front-row starter Kenny Wallace of St. Louis by lap seven and then controlled the remainder of the 25-lap main event. 

“Me and Kenny both started on the outside and he took the lead … I was able to hug the bottom and (when) he started to skate up a little bit, I was able to get by him,” Long said.

Long withstood some challenges from Nicely, especially over the final two circuits when the leaders were encountering lapped traffic, but he never surrendered the lead.

Finishing third was Trevor Neville of Mackinaw, Ill., who won the May 19 and June 2 features in Quincy. Rounding out the top five were Hunt Gossum of Mayfield, Ky., and Wallace. Two-time defending track champ and 2023 Modified Hell Tour winner in Quincy, Austen Becerra of Carthage,  was sixth.

Modified heat winners were Nicely, Neville and Wallace.

Six states and Canada were represented by the 22 modified drivers in the pits.

Support series

Liberty driver Reed Wolfmeyer collected his first sport mod feature victory of the season. Wolfmeyer led the final six laps of an 18-lap, 13-car event after running down and working his way past eventual runner-up Nicholas Profeta of Keokuk, Iowa.

“I had tried to watch and do what the late models had done so I would have a (better) chance,” Wolfmeyer said.

Finishing third was Logan Cumby of Quincy, followed by Dakota Girard of Moberly, Mo., and Tanner Klingele of Quincy.

Heat winners were Girard and Cumby.

Jeffrey DeLonjay’s first ride in a Crown Vic proved profitable when he dominated the feature field. DeLonjay has also driven in the 4-Cylinder, where he’s a two-time defending track champ, and late model divisions this season.

“This class is awesome,” the Quincy driver said. “You can get into it for less than $3,000. It’s the most fun you can have for a price like that.”

Steve Meyer of Hannibal, Mo., and Jake Etter of Rushville, Ill., filled out the podium finishers.

News and notes

• Erb remains the leading money winner among the Hell Tour’s late model drivers. He has pocketed more than $40,000 during the tour’s first week, including a pair of $10,000-to-win events.

• The 32 late models in the pits were seven more than were on hand in 2023.

• The top late model qualifier was veteran Billy Moyers of Batesville, Ark., who posted a 13.264-second lap. The top modified qualifier was Nicely (13.990).

• Moyers (100) is second to Shannon Babb (101) of Moweaqua, Ill., in career Hell Tour victories.

• There were no former winners of Quincy Hell Tour races in Wednesday’s starting lineup. The Quincy Hell Tour races date to 2006.

• Late model hotshoe Trey Mills of St. Augustine, Fla., was the youngest driver in the pits at 16 years old. His nickname is “The Future”.

• Winners of the Quincy Hell Tour race have received $5,000 each year since 2013. The event record of $10,000 came in 2009 as part of a record $42,500 purse. Babb earned that payday.

• The last top-five finish by an area driver in the Quincy Hell Tour race was by Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, who was fifth in 2016.

• The midseason championships for all of the regular weekly classes are on tap Sunday night at the speedway.   

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles