Luke Baldwin and Carson Loftin: The Bright Future of Modifieds

Luke Baldwin and Carson Loftin: The Bright Future of Modifieds

The Baldwin and Loftin names don’t sound unfamiliar to veteran modified fans, but this is Luke Baldwin and Carson Loftin. Luke scored the King of the Modifieds SMART Modified Tour win on Sunday at South Boston Speedway in Virginia. Loftin has won the other two SMART Modified Tour races this year.

This next generation of racers are stepping into prominence with unbelievable early success — and they are bringing about a resurgence of interest in modified racing.

Baldwin battled veteran Matt Hirschman, another multi-generation racer, for the King of the Modifieds win. That victory came in just his third SMART Modified Tour start.

“Matt Hirschman is the guy to beat in tour-type modified competition,” Baldwin said in victory lane. “To put my name above his and guys like Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, Burt Myers, and Ryan Newman, it’s unbelievable.”

Baldwin comes from a line of racers. His grandfather, Tom Baldwin, was a hardnosed racer in his day, a proven winner, and a regular in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. His father, Tommy Baldwin Jr., gained his fame on the mechanic’s side. In total he earned five NASCAR Cup Series wins, including a Daytona 500 victory as a crew chief for Ward Burton in 2002.

“[Luke] put on a clinic,” said Tommy. “For a 17-year-old to have that much speed and talent. Ninety-five percent of the racing modified world has never passed Matt Hirschman. He passed him twice.”

Luke Baldwin (left) and Carson Loftin.

Loftin turns 16 on March 28. He won the SMART Tour races at Florence Motor Speedway in South Carolina and Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. At the latter track, he won the 2022 602 modified championship. Loftin’s father, Brian, also races and has the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour title to his credit.

“He works hard and can handle a race car,” said Brian of his son Carson.

Carson is a high school sophomore who hopes to continue his education after graduation. He said he is leaning toward trade school. Carson added that he expects to compete beyond the SMART Tour.

“Hopefully, I will show I have the ability and talent to be selected to test for one the larger series,” Carson said.

Baldwin took home $20,000 for the King of the Modifieds win. Each of the race’s 36 starters took home at least, $1,200.

“We are extremely excited to host a major event of this caliber to start our 2024 season,” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Brandon Brown. “The King of the Modifieds race is one of the country’s biggest races of the season for asphalt modifieds.”

The caliber of that event has arguably grown, thanks in part to the fresh crop of drivers rising to the top, such as Luke Baldwin and Carson Loftin.