When Mason Zeigler first started racing a dirt late model at Roaring Knob in his first season he never imagined he’d be racing on a tour. But he knew after the first year that he had caught the racing bug. Now after a breakout 2014 season Zeigler will compete on the upcoming World of Outlaws tour where he will be a rookie of the year candidate.
Committing to a tour was an easy decision for Zeigler for this upcoming season due to getting show up money and belong to a points fund that help with travel costs after doing some traveling last year without those luxuries. It was also an easy decision to when it came to deciding on a series.
“We just felt like the Outlaws were the best fit for us to run our first tour,” Zeigler said. “It has the around the same amount of races (as the Lucas Series), but there’s a little less travel for us because there are more races closer to our area. I get along with all the officials and on a personal level they are a great group of guys.”
Getting to this point Zeigler cut his teeth in racing at the Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, PA a short drive down US 40 from his home in Chalk Hill, PA. He didn’t start in the four wheel variety. Dirt bikes were his first love. He raced bikes for around seven years, but due to the violent nature of motocross style racing his parents persuaded him to get out of it.
“I had a lot of fun and a lot of success with it, but the amount of people who make a very good living doing it are slim to none,” Zeigler said. “My parents felt that it was a bad avenue to go down. At the time I fought them on it, but I am happy that they got me away from it.”
His parents were behind him when it came to car racing though, so he started running a stock at Roaring Knob and eventually moved into the late model class. He had some help from racer Mel Minnick and Kenny Mitchell. He is a first generation racer along with his brother Fred. His brother got out of driving race cars after starting a family. Zeigler won his first late model feature at “the Knob” at age 16 and has been hooked ever since.
“Ever since that first year I knew I would love to do it for the rest of my life,” Zeigler said. “I would watch guys like Darrell Lanigan, Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards and sorta envy those guys. I strived to compete with those guys and last year I was racing Lanigan door to door for the lead. It’s hard to believe just a few years ago that I was watching them online and wishing I was racing with them.”
After running with used cars and parts while racing weekly, Zeigler bought his first new car in 2013. Instead of watching from home he and his crew traveled to Florida. He found quick success setting fast time in time trials and getting a 9th place finish in an A-Main.
“We had Austin Hargrove helping us at that point and it was our first time with top of the line equipment,” Zeigler said. “We won some heat races and made 90 percent of the shows down there. That got us going and it carried us all the way to now.”
The pilot of the 25z Longhorn race car is coming off a three win season including back to back wins on the UMP Summernationals “Hell Tour” at Brushcreek and Attica. He also contended at several crown jewel events including the Prarie Dirt Classic in Fairbury, IL. Zeigler had the pole for the event and led the first 29 laps. He slipped back to 8th at one point but he regrouped to contend in what as a thrilling finish that saw Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie, Zeigler and Shannon Babb all in the mix.
“I thought Jimmy was going to put a slidejob on McCreadie and I was sitting thinking oh my gosh I might win this thing,” Zeigler said. “But he ran him right and was nothing but a class act. I would’ve liked to have won it, but It was just an honor to be racing with those guys.”
Zeigler said he needs to be better at conserving tires in the 100 lap events, but is making progress in that area.
Zeigler’s crew consists of crew chief James “Buck” Buckley and Darrell Meyers. The 25z team has picked up some more backing for this season from companies such as Race Note, Arizona Sport Shirts, Percise Racing Products, VP Racing Fuels, Performance Bodies and FK Rod Ends to go along with continued support from Ohiopyle Vacation Rentals, ISI Insurance Services, Pro Power, Gotta Race and Old Mill Farms.
They are anxious to leave the cold of Southwestern Pennsylvania for Georgia and Florida. The WoO Late Model season begins February 6th at Screven Motor Speedway and the first swing through the two states has seven scheduled races. Zeigler has a few goals in mind that he’d like to achieve for a successful start to the season.
“If we could leave Florida top five in World of Outlaws points that’d be awesome,” Zeigler said. “We will work on win one and if we can get that we’ll work on another one.”