Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Babcock is enjoying successful race career
By Mike Ernst
Jeff Babcock, of Wayne, Ohio, grew up watching his dad, Jeff Sr., wheel stock cars around western Ohio, and like most kids, wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.
It may not have gotten off to a great start, but Babcock has certainly figured it out. He is currently as hot as any driver in the state having driven his Stock Car and UMP Modified to victory lane 25 times in 2009.
"My dad let me jump in his stock car when I was 15 years old," Babcock laughed. "I stuffed it in the frontstretch wall the first time on the track at Fremont. I guess that is why I've never been afraid to run up by the wall."
Fourteen years later, the rim-riding Babcock has won more than 125 times in the stock and modified and is currently chasing several point championships. One of those tracks is Limaland Motorsports Park.
Babcock has positioned himself for a big night on Friday, as Limaland Motorsports Park closes the curtain on the 2009 season with the annual King of the Quarter Mile event.
Not only do the UMP Modifieds, Thunderstocks and NRA Sprint Invaders run their year-end championship show, the night and season are finished off with the King of the Quarter Mile races, which pit each divisions feature winner's from 2009 against one another for some extra cash.
Babcock's stock car is owned by his father, while Lima's Dave Luchini calls the shots with the modified.
"We are already qualified for both the modified and stock car 'King' races so we have a chance to have a pretty good night and pay some bills, or at least that is what my car owners are thinking," Babcock said.
Babcock, leads the Thunderstocks with seven wins this season, but probably will not catch Tony Anderson in the point standings. In the modifieds on the other hand, Babcock finds himself just four points behind Todd Sherman heading into the season finale. Twice already this season, Babcock has swept the modified and stock features at Lima.
"This is probably the best season I have ever had," Babcock said. "We are winning some races, not really dominating, but winning races and really having a lot of fun. But we have won 25 times this year so that makes it fun."
Being this close to a track championship, Babcock certainly wants to win one at Limaland, especially for car owner Dave Luchini, who is from Lima, but that was not his goal when the season began.
"I really never set out to run for points," Babcock said. "I really just try to win races and try not to worry about points because I usually end up not making it to all the races, so I am usually not much of a point's racer."
Babcock has won a track championship before. He captured the 2007 Eldora Speedway Stock Car championship and says that is the only time he has ever really worried about points.
"My dad and I just decided that we were going to try to win that points championship that year," Babcock said. "That is the only year that when the season started our goal was to win a track championship."
His best year at Eldora may have been in 2008. He dominated the Stock Car ranks, going to victory lane six times and winning a modified event as well. But he did not run all the races and had to settle for fourth in the final stock car standings.
"I wish we would have made the effort to run them all last year, because we were really good at Eldora last year," Babcock said. "I missed some races because of work, so we missed out on the championship."
He currently stands fourth in both the Stock Car and Modified point standings at Eldora, which ranks high on Babcock's list of favorite tracks.
"I love to run the cushions and go fast and no place is better for that than Eldora," Babcock said. "Anytime you can win at Eldora it is a good win."
Babcock, who has won more than 125 races in his 15-year career, has picked up 14 modified checkered flags in 2009 including wins at South Buxton in Canada, Moler Raceway Park near Cincinnati and last Saturday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway in southern Indiana.
"It really shows you how tough the competition is at Lima and Eldora when you can go to different tracks and beat the guys that run there ever week," Babcock said. "I don't think people around here always understand how tough the competition is here."
Most drivers will tell you that the stock car and the modified drive totally different and that it is very difficult to be successful in both at the same time. Babcock is one the few that wins in both.
"It is a lot tougher than people think," Babcock said. "The modified really wears me out a lot more. When we race the modified first, I think it really wears me out for the stock car race, where if the stock car race is first, I don't feel near as tired in the modified.
"I think it is because you have to work the brake a lot more with the modified, and just have to work a lot more in the car," Babcock said.
Babcock has had limited time in both a non-wing sprint and late model and would like to do either if a good opportunity presented itself. But it may have to happen quick, much like his father some 15 years ago, Babcock is getting close to handing the racing helmet down to his son Collin, who is now 12 years old.
"He's been racing the last couple of years in a quarter-midget and has done pretty well," Babcock said. "I think he is ready to make a step up so maybe we'll have to get him going in a modified here pretty soon."
It would appear a Babcock will be winning races on local dirt tracks for years to come.