|Dan Stone wheeling his 21d Late Model (photo from DanStone21dRacing.com)|
Dan Stone is currently in his 20th season racing dirt late models. In that time he has collected over 100 feature wins and has had a lot of fun along the way. Stone started racing after watching and helping his dad race for about five years.
“Basically from day one when he started racing the dirt late models I was around it,” Stone said. “He would run at least two nights a week and there were quite a few specials around our area too. I started racing by getting into one of his old cars.”
It didn’t take long for Stone to adapt to racing a late model as he was able to pick up his first career win halfway through his rookie season at the Thunder Mountain Speedway in Center Lisle, NY.
“I think I started about mid back and the car was really good,” Stone said. “Actually my dad started right behind me and was following me through the pack, but something happened to his motor and he pulled in. He said the to guys in the pits that I was going to win because my car was going really good so we better hurry up and go watch. Sure enough I did.”
Stone, his dad, and his little brother all raced at the same time at one point in the mid to late 90’s until his dad retired from driving.
“He was still a way better racer than we were when he stopped, but I think he wanted to watch us race since he never could because he was always on the track with us,” Stone said.
The Thompson, PA driver has two track championships to his credit, one at Penn-Can Speedway in 1997 and the other one was at Skyline (NY) Raceway in 2000. He continued to amass wins too including a career year in 2000 where he won 22 features.
“I think that year we had to be above 50 percent in victories to the races to we started,” Stone said. “I think won 11 races in a row at one point that year. It was basically just running locally at two or three different tracks.”
While he was successful racing locally two of Stone’s biggest wins have been in western Pennsylvania. The first one was during the World of Outlaws Late Models Oil Region Labor Day Classic race in 2007 at the Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, PA.
“It was a two day show and I think we ran seventh the night before which was the best we’d ever done with the Outlaws,” Stone said. “We started around tenth the second night and it was one of those nights where we hit everything perfect on the car. I started making my way up through the pack running around the bottom and no one else was really running there. I kinda lucked out that I had an open lane to drive by everyone.”
The driver known as Big Brother, a nickname given to him by announcer Rick Eshelman, won that race in his family owned Stone’s Excavating, NEP Telephone Company, Beyea Performance, James T O’Hara Construction 21D machine. He won his second Outlaws race on night two of the 2012 Firecracker 100 driving for Super Deuce Racing.
“Lernerville is one of those tracks that I haven’t been too a lot, but I have had some success there,” Stone said. “I like the track and it is usually pretty racey. They do a good job with track prep there that weekend.”
He is looking forward to the event again this year which is just two weeks away.
“It is a really cool event with all the fans there camping and having a good time,” Stone said. “It is like a three day party,”
While those three day events are fun to the fans Stone also thinks they are beneficial to the racer too.
“It is huge to not have to run the truck and race for a good purse three nights in a row,” Stone said. “If you have a bad first night it really doesn’t matter because you get to start all over the next night.”
Stone plans to race with Super Deuce Racing at this years Firecracker. This is a partnership has been going on for a few years and it is one that Stone has enjoyed being a part of.
“The guys who own that car are great guys and they just like to have fun,” Stone said. “The first year they built a car Ricky Elliot drove it. The following year they needed a hauler and I was lucky that they were close by and we kinda hit it off together and had some success.”
So far this season he has picked up a win during a Three State Flyers event at Selinsgrove Speedway, but he has had some struggles too losing an engine at Mercer’s NDRL Northeast race and he also had mechanical issues at Little Valley during another NDRL Northeast event. Through those issues though Stone says you have to remember that it is supposed to be fun.
“That’s what it is all about really,” Stone said. “Sometimes you have to take a step back when your struggling and say Am I really having fun here? It is okay to take some time and regroup. I am lucky to have a great wife. She and my daughter go with me when they can and it is always to have them at the track.”
The 21d/Super Deuce Racing teams schedule consists of mainly the regional special events whether it be the World of Outlaws, NDRL, Lucas Oil Series, NDRL NE or Three State Flyers.
“It is pretty much what we have to do anymore,” Stone said. “The closest track to us (that runs late models regularly) is Selinsgrove and that is two and a half hours away. We try to hit the bigger series shows that are coming through the area because most of those races pay $800 to take the green. So to get into one of those races and to maybe get a top ten is a good night.”
Stone would like to pick up a win at one of the national touring series races that are in the region the rest of this year to be satisfied with 2014.
“I would love to get one of them,” Stone said. “We have a Lucas Oil Race, a few World of Outlaws shows, and a few of the NDRL National Series races left on our schedule. They are at some tracks that we are good at. I’d be disappointed if we don’t get one of those races knowing how good we are at some of those tracks.”