Need for Speed: Hitchens fuels up for 2016 season after third racing title

Coastal Point • Submitted: Scott Hitchens drives the Blades HVAC Services 65 car.Coastal Point • Submitted: Scott Hitchens drives the Blades HVAC Services 65 car.Scott Hitchens likes speed. And ever since he got his first dirt bike at just 3, all he’s wanted to do was go fast.

Now a 22-year-old seasoned veteran, Hitchens has come a long way from his dirt bike days, going on to make a name for himself as one of the area’s top young dirt track drivers.

The Gumboro native has racked up a variety of titles and accolades throughout his 19 years of racing, including back-to-back Dirt Track Modified Championships at the Georgetown Speedway in 2013 and 2014. Most recently, Hitchens added another title to his résumé, picking up his first AC Delco PSC Modifieds Championship at the Delaware International Speedway in Delmar this October.

The victory for Hitchens and the Blades HVAC Services Racing Team had come just a year after Hitchens finished second overall on the same tour. But even after entering his 2015 campaign as a favorite, and backing it up with a comfortable points lead for the majority of the season, an unexpected breakdown with just two races left made things a little more interesting.

“It came down pretty close,” Hitchens said. “The second-to-last points race, we broke. If we wouldn’t have broke that night, we would have had it wrapped up. So the last week was pretty stressful.”

The setback narrowed the gap considerably, with Hitchens leading second-place driver Jordan Justice of Laurel by just four points and third-place drive Brandon Watkins of Harrington still in the running, back only five points. But when race day rolled around in October, the Blades team showed up to take care of business.

“We went out there and ran and did what we had to do,” said Hitchens. “It was a big-time relief. We raced all year, and then it came down so close — talk about nerves.”

After securing the 2015 crown, the Delco champ will head to Dover Downs on Saturday, Jan. 16, for the annual championship banquet, where he’ll be recognized for the victory. But while Hitchens will be put in the spotlight at that event, he knows that that title was a team effort.

“Everybody was super-pumped — they knew how much work went into it to make it happen, every weekend from March all the way to September,” he said. “Brandon [Blades] has got a whole team over there, about eight or nine of us. My one buddy, Jordan Long, helps me out big-time. There’s a lot of work that goes into the cars.”

Equally important in the effort, he said, was the support of his friends and family — not just throughout his latest conquest, but throughout his entire 19 years of racing, much of which has been spent traveling all over the East Coast on the search for speed.

“Without my parents, I wouldn’t be where I am. My dad’s driven me up and down the East Coast since 2001. I’d hate to see how much money he’s spent [on gas],” Hitchens said with a laugh. “My grandparents drove down as many chances they could, down to North Carolina, Florida, wherever I was racing.”

While the team will be back together again for the 2016 series at the Georgetown Speedway in March, Hitchens said he wasn’t sure if they’ll be looking to defend the title in Delmar. Instead, they’ll aim to take on some tracks throughout the Northeast, by entering the Brett Deyo Short Track Super Series, where the competition will be revved up.

“We’re gonna do his whole tour,” Hitchens said of his next challenge. “Just going there and winning some of those races would be awesome. [Brett Deyo] pulls in the best of the best. If you can run with them, you’re doing something right.”

The South Region portion of the tour will span from March to April and includes stops in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But local race fans will have plenty of chances to check out the Blades car, as the series both starts off and wraps up at Georgetown Speedway and features a race at Delmar, as well.

It will be yet another next step for Hitchens, with Big-Block Modifieds the only place left to advance outside of professional NASCAR. But, for him, it doesn’t really matter what he’s racing — as long as he’s going fast. It’s that need for speed that’s turned a 3-year-old with a dirt bike into a three-time crate block champion who’s not planning on taking his foot off the accelerator anytime soon.

“If you really love racing, you’ll figure out a way to do it. You’ll find someone who’s gonna back you. You’ll go work hard to get it done, just to be able to show up,” Hitchens said. “I’m gonna do it as long as I can afford to do it. Honestly, I’d race anything. It doesn’t matter. I like the beach and everything, but I like going fast.”