Last month, Scott Hitchens competed in the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified features in Charlotte, N.C.
“Down there, that race brings the best of everybody. Anybody there could win the race. There’s no one that’s bad there. It’s the best of the best,” said Hitchens. “It’s a Super DIRT series. You’ve got to race a minimum of one of their races a year. They race in New York and Florida. Everybody in that series is top-of-the-line. Those are guys that do it for a living — that’s all they do.”
Racing is in Hitchens’ blood, having inherited his love for speed from his dad, Greg.
“My dad raced a little bit in Georgetown for a while, and then I took it over, I guess,” said Hitchens. “I started when I was 8. It started with go-karts, did that for a while, and then progressively got to where I am now.”
He first raced go-karts for about four years, traveling along the East Coast, as far as Florida, to compete, before moving up to asphalt racing.
“Then the economy went south, and we came home and started racing the modifieds, and that’s where I’ve been ever since,” he said. “Asphalt — those are all on a paved road. The modifieds are on dirt, so it’s two different worlds, really.”
Hitchens has won approximately 80 to 100 of the races in which he’s competed.
He said races normally have a minimum of 25 cars competing but could have up to 50 cars.
In North Carolina, he was racing at about 120 mph, although, he said, “Some tracks are a little faster than that, some a little slower.”
“Race length depends on wrecks, cautions. We raced a 100-lap race in New York, and I think that one went on for maybe 45 minutes or an hour. That’s longer. Some will go for 10 minutes. It all depends.”
Now, as a dad to a little girl, Hitchens said he has scaled back his time devoted to racing from six nights a week to two or three.
“I’ve got a lot of guys that help me, which take a lot of it off of me,” he said. “You get [to the track] and everybody gets out on the track and packs it in because it’s all messy. Then everybody goes out and has a practice session to make sure everything is alright.
“Then you go out for your qualifying race, your heat race. It’s a short race. Where you finish in that determines where you start in the main race. Once you finish that, you go back in and work on your car, get lined up for the main event and then go race that.
“If we race on a Saturday night, we’ll get the car back on Sunday to the shop. We’ll get it all cleaned up, everything’s gone through properly. We work on a Tuesday and Thursday night. Everybody goes through the whole car, rips it apart, puts it back together, makes sure everything is good. Then we load it back up and try again. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun.”
Just working on the cars themselves is a fun aspect of racing, said Hitchens.
“You buy the cars. They’re made in Canada and the northern New York area. The bodies and stuff, the outer sheet metal — we’ll build all that stuff. But a lot of it, you buy it and put it all together.”
Hitchens races a car owned by Brandon Blades of Blades HVAC Services.
“It’s an $80,000 car he’s putting me in and entrusting me with. I’m pretty lucky. Most people don’t get the opportunity to do it,” said Hitchens. “I couldn’t do it without him. He’s really like a best friend. It’s all friends. We go to races and have a good time. We’ve got a hotdog cooker in the hauler; everybody hangs out; it’s just a good time. I couldn’t do it without all those guys.”
While Hitchens didn’t win the World Finals in North Carolina, he said it was a thrill just to be part of the race.
“It was surreal, honestly. You’re down there racing with people you’ve looked up to. You’ve watched them on TV, and now you’re down there racing with them.”
He and his team hope to qualify for the World Finals again next year.
“We had a lot of motor problems this year that kind of sidelined us this year. We’ve got that all figured out, so, hopefully, next year will be a little better.”
Hitchens said he was grateful for the support of his dad throughout his nearly two decades of racing.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for him.”
“I’m proud of him,” said Bill Hitchens of his grandson Scott. “He went all the way through school with good marks. His daddy, from the time he was big enough to race, made sure his school work was right. If not, he didn’t race. It’s really paid off for him, too.”
As for racing, Hitchens said he enjoys the adrenaline rush and the taste of competition.
“And getting to hang out with my buddies… I don’t know. There’s a lot to it. Probably the winning is the best part. It takes a lot to get there, but when you do, it’s worth all the headache.”
By Maria Counts