Two pro late model rookies, Jordon Riddick (inside) and Hans Beeler (outside), collided during last Saturday’s pro late model feature at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
“Jordon was behind me for a lap and a half,” said Beeler, 23, of Modesto, California. “My car was tight so I took a wide entry. He came in hot and our cars touched.”
The race marked Riddick’s first in a pro late model. Riddick drove a full season in the CRA Junior Late Model Series, where he won two features and finished sixth in points.
“The pro late model had different shocks and tires,” Riddick, 15, of Sellersburg, Indiana, said. “There was no ride height rule [which CRA has] and the rev limiter offered 400 more rpm [than what the CRA Junior Late Model Series offers].”
Riddick’s first race in the West was also on the largest track he’s raced on — a 1/2-mile oval. The CRA Junior Late Model Series competes on tracks 3/8-mile and smaller.
“Aero plays a big role,” said Riddick of racing on a 1/2-mile. “You can feel the air and what it does for the car, and that is huge. I also experienced drafting. It was definitely a learning experience driving at Kern County.”
Beeler raced go-karts before joining his father, Mike Beeler, in the pro late models this year.
“I went from a shifter kart, where you could see where you’re putting your front tire, to a stock car, where you have to drive by feel,” Beeler said. “There’s a big difference. Nothing prepares you for how to feel your car, except experience.”
A driver gains experience only one way — by making laps. Luckily, the incident between Jordon Riddick and Hans Beeler resulted in minimal damage. Both continued racing after restarting in the rear. Riddick finished third, Beeler fifth.
“It pays to stay out there,” said Beeler. “Like my dad always told me, ‘To finish first, you first must finish.’”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th 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.