Always a contender, Probst wins first IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock national title

IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock National Champion Cory Probst. (Photo by Jim Steffens)

BREWSTER, Minn. – He’s always been a contender. 

Now Cory Probst is the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock national champion, despite the lack of sleep.

The Brewster, Minn., driver collected 24 feature wins – and another 14 top five finishes – in 41 starts, earning Big Daddy Race Cars Northern Region plus Arlington Raceway and Murray County Speedway track titles in addition to his first national crown. 

“I’m glad we were finally able to do it,” said Probst, runner-up to Shannon Anderson in 2018 and to Jeff Ware last year. “We hadn’t planned to run for the national championship this season. Now it’s exciting to know you can run at the same level as the other guys who have won it.” 

“Our daughter Kenleigh was born last September and I didn’t think I’d be able to race as much or as hard,” he continued. “I spent as much time with Kenleigh as I could every night before she went to bed before going to work on the car. I’m one of those guys who is nitpicky anyway but that made for a lot of lost sleep.”

Race nights took Probst to eight different tracks in three states. He won nine of a dozen starts at Arlington and seven of 11 at Slayton. Three more wins came at Norman County Raceway, two at North Central Speedway and Clay County Fair Speedway and one at Fairmont.

Nine of those checkers came in 11 outings between July 3 and Aug. 6. Probst then won another seven of eight starts in the last two weeks of August.

“The stars aligned, we had a little luck and everything worked out,” he explained. “I think races are usually won in the shop. Some guys don’t realize how many hours are spent in the shop. A race might be 12 or 15 laps but you’ve got to stay on top of things when you’re not at the track.”

Probst has finished no worse than fifth in the national point standings since 2015. He’s won 20 or more features for six straight seasons and is now tied for third on the all-time Hobby Stock wins list with 165 career checkers. 

“Over the years I’ve learned to make smarter decisions, when to push hard, when not to, and when to be patient. Seat time has made a big difference,” Probst said. 

His initial seat time came in a local hornet class but Probst found his first on-track success in a sportsman before moving to the sanctioned Hobby Stocks. 

“My dad had raced a Hobby Stock years ago and I was looking to move up. I talked to a friend of mine and bought a car that he’d driven,” said Probst. 

That friend is two-time IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s champion and fellow 100 career wins club member Jason Wilkinson. Probst ran that 2008 Terminator two seasons before getting into a Big Daddy Race Cars Chassis in 2014.

Just the second Minnesota driver to win the national Hobby Stock title, Probst had raced regularly with 2015 champion Justin Luinenburg of Reading and ran this year with Luinenburg’s son Blake. 

His competition also included his father and crew chief Dan, who won his first sanctioned feature since the 2000 season on Sept. 5 at Arlington. 

“Being a new father and winning the national championship made this a pretty magical season,” Probst said. “One of the best things about it was racing with my dad. He’d gotten out of racing for a while and ran my backup car. It was fun racing with him and it was good to see him win.”

Starts-41 Wins-24 Additional Top Fives-14

His Crew: Wife Katelyn, father Dan Probst, Lisa Hieronimus and mother Sandy Probst.

His Sponsors: Mick’s Repair, Weber’s Money, KNP Property Investments LLC, Radio Works and Arnold Motor Supply, all of Worthington; Remax Realty Plus of Redwood Falls; and Big Daddy Race Cars of Norfolk, Neb.