The IMCA sport mod feature win at the Duel in the Desert at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway meant a lot to Austen Becerra. It made all the time he and his father put into their homebuilt chassis worthwhile. What’s even more remarkable is their trip to Vegas almost didn’t happen.
Friends urged Becerra to head to the Duel in the Desert after he won 17 features this year. With a shoestring budget, Becerra needed to find a way to get his car from Carthage, Illinois, to Nevada. Modified racer Jardin Fuller, of Memphis, Missouri, had room in his stacker for another car and offered Becerra’s sport mod a ride.
Once there Becerra had to overcome other hurdles. On his first night he led his qualifying feature until his engine blew up. Luckily, Becerra transported a spare engine with his car when it traveled west. He put the backup in his car and qualified for the main. Then he proceeded to win it.
“Last winter I decided to build my own car because my dad, Tony, had always built his own hobby stocks,” Becerra said. “We designed our own chassis. We made a taller cage, changed the front end geometry, and changed the suspension pickup points.”
After taking the checkers at Vegas, Becerra put on a smoke show. He then exited the car, slapped the roof several times, congratulating the car for the win.
“There is just no better feeling than to win a race, and win it in a car you built yourself,” said Becerra.
Austen Becerra plans to head next to Arizona. Fellow sport mod racers Chase and Shelby Alves, of Peoria, Arizona, will transport Becerra’s car south from Nevada.
“I’m fortunate to have such good racing friends helping me,” Becerra said. “I couldn’t do this without them.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.