Young rookies rule El Paso County Raceway

Hunter Smith became a first-time winner in just his career 10th IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock start. The 14-year-old was first to the May 8 checkers at El Paso County Raceway. (Photo by Terry Gardner Photog­raphy)

By Anna Spinuzzi

CALHAN, Colo. (May 8) – Last Saturday was a night full of action-packed IMCA dirt racing and a night full of firsts at El Paso County Raceway. After a brief rain delay fans were treated to a night full of upsets when four IMCA racing divisions saw first-time track winners, including three young first-time feature winners, which was a first for the track itself. 

In a night full of surprises, the night’s youngest winner was 14-year-old Hunter Smith in his 10th career start as he drove away with the checkered flag in the competitive IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock division. Smith is making an impressive run at being the 2021 rookie of the year with 50 shows planned.

Smith’s run was at risk after ripping off the rear suspension while racing the night before in Colby, Kan. His crew pulled it off and got him on track for his first feature win Saturday at El Paso and on track for the rookie title. 

Another young surprise in the Mach-1 Sport Compact division was from a kid who just recently earned his driver’s license. Jacob Worthington took home the checkered flag from eighth starting in a race with no cautions to tighten up the field. 

Two weeks prior, in his first Sport Compact race ever after leading half a lap, he finished second to the previous track champion in the division.

Worthington, a sophomore in high school where he maintains a 4.0 grade point average, just recently learned how to drive a manual transmission while he still had his learner’s permit. That manual 2004 Chevy Cavalier was transformed over the winter into the night’s winning IMCA Sport Compact.

Jacob Worthington won his first Mach-1 Sport Compact feature from eighth starting Saturday evening at El Paso County Raceway. (Photo by Terry Gardner Photography)

Austin Rhoades, 17, yet another impressive young driver, picked up his first feature win in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car division after three years of racing and only his second year behind the wheel of a Stock Car. Rhoades is a fourth-generation racer and chassis builder at Showtime Motor Sports. 

Fourth generation speedster Austin Rhoades raced to IMCA Sunoco Stock Car career win number one at El Paso County Raceway on Saturday night. (Photo by Terry Gardner Photography) 

Veteran Dave Stock also saw his first feature win at El Paso County Raceway Saturday night in a hard-fought feature in the Kasl Kustoms Northern SportMods after Danny Concelman took a hard hit and was unable to finish the race. 

It was a great night for the first-time winners and fans alike full of excitement and drivers to watch at future races at El Paso County Raceway.