Here’s an story based on an interview we did for the start of the Must See Racing Supermodified season. While it was originally supposed to appear on MustSeeRacing.com, it was never published so we present it to you here now.
Just to catch you up on how Kyle’s season has gone as he gets ready to race with ISMA at the legendary Thompson International Speedway this weekend, make sure you visit PenixRacing.com and be sure to follow @PenixRacing on Twitter.
Goshen, IN – April 30, 2013…In the days of the great Gold Rush, if a person wanted to make it big he was told to “Go West, young man. Go West.” But for second generation supermodified competitor Kyle Vanderpool of Madera, CA, doing just the opposite may be his ticket to fame.
Many times in the past, aspiring racers have done just that. Greats like Parnelli Jones, and the entire Vukovich family made the cross-country trek to Indiana and the mecca of open wheel racing. Now Vanderpool, following in the recent footsteps of the Swanson brothers, hopes to make his mark on the competitive world of Must See Racing, specifically the supermodified division.
“I’m very proud to represent California. There’s different levels of competitors out there and because not a lot of supermodified guys from out here have had this opportunity, I think it’s going to give me a whole different perspective because the cars are so much different,” he said.
Vanderpool’s civic pride is more than a matter of personal interest. He said, “I hope that people out there will respect me and come to know me as a clean, safe, and competitive driver and not make a bad name for California racers.”
Being a former champion at Madera Speedway as well as a Vukovich, Pombo, and Harvest Classic winner, Vanderpool has amassed an impressive resume in his short career of supermodified racing. But he’s not about to underestimate the level and depth of competition east of the Mississippi. “There’s a big group of guys to run with and the competition levels are astounding compared to out here,” he stated. “Now I’m not saying they are slouches here but it’s died off so bad there’s just not a lot of racers anymore and there, the field of cars is big and the experience level as well as the level of equipment seems to be much greater.”
Even so, Vanderpool and his Penix Racing team have set goals for themselves, including a possible Must See Racing Supermodified Series Championship. “The goal for me as a driver is to always win. We’re coming back there to win and as a team we are doing everything we can to be ready, focused and dedicated to that. The Must See Championship will be tough, but I’ve got my sights set on that too,” he declared.
One win in particular that the full-time utility worker has in mind is the Xtreme Speed Challenge at Winchester Speedway that will kick off his first east coast racing experience. He exclaimed, “A win at Winchester would rank as one of my greatest accomplishments because of all the history there. I mean think about it, just think of all the great names that have run there and how everyone talks about how tough it is. I‘ve heard about that place since I was a little kid and now I might have a shot at winning there.”
Vanderpool will be spending about as much time in the air as he will behind the wheel of his low slung brand new Belfab chassis. “I’m one of those drivers that still has to work for a living, so I don’t know how much further I can go, but we’ll see what happens,“ he shared. “I have 15 days of vacation a year and they are all used for racing. I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife that supports me and I’m so blessed to have Don and Chuck Penix behind me. I know how lucky I am because I couldn’t do this without them. I would be just like everyone else out here, I don’t have a lot of money and the economy is very tight.”
Much of the young racers experience has come behind the wheel of a 410 CU. IN supermodified so he’s well versed on the many conflicts of small blocks versus big blocks.
“You know what? A year ago I would have said small block is the way to go because I had this perception that the east coast cars and big blocks were heavy and slower. Now though, after testing the Belfab at Madera, on used American Racer tires we are only a tenth off the our west coast cars time,” he explained. “I’m really excited to bring the big block Belfab back there and if everything people say is true about how much better the west coast cars are but we’re right there with west coast times, it will be very interesting to see what happens.”
If motor sport history can teach us any lesson, it’s that young brave racers, with good equipment that are driven to win like Kyle Vanderpool, will have no problem finding the grass to be greener on the other side of the fence.