Chris Wall: Late Start To Racing Career No Deterrent For Louisiana Driver

 

HOLDEN, La. - It started as a dare from a nephew one Sunday morning after church services when Chris Wall decided he would take a shot at dirt track racing.  Some 11 years later the reality of that day still lingers in Wall’s mind as he prepares to hit the road in 2010 with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series for the first-time. Without that conversation, the many fans across the country who will be seeing Wall race for the first time in person this year would not haven the fortune to see the talents of the Holden, La. driver.

 Indiana's own Don O'Neal advances past Chris Wall, who earned the outside pole start for the "Indiana Icebreaker" at Brownstown Speedway.  (Mike Ruefer)

  “I had always had fast motorcycles, three-wheelers like that, but anyhow, my nephew went to a dirt race and said `guess where I went last night' and he said `a dirt race,” said Wall who recounts the story that the nephew also threw in “I bet you’d love it.”  I said 'yes that’s what I am afraid of'.  I would,  and the next thing you know he dared us to get a race car and by the end of that week we were owners of  a super stock, it looked like a late model, but it was a clip car, had a two-barrel carburetor, we run from ’99-’01 in the super stock class at Spillway Speedway in Loranger, La., Pike County Speedway in Mississippi, and Saint Tammany Speedway in Louisiana. By the end of ’01, we were the cat to beat in the class.” 

 Wall then made the transition to the Late Model division in 2002; the highlight that year was making the trek to Talladega Short Track in Alabama for the Ice Bowl and made the show.  “You would have thought we made the World 100 that time,” said Wall whose racing career did start until he was 31 years old in 1999. 

 Over the past several years Wall has kept his racing limited to the mid-south region, winning several events with his spec motor, as well as a Behind the Wheel/Late Model America "Rookie of the Year" title with the Southern United P{rofessional Racing (SUPR) Series.  Just in the last few years has he made inroads with his open late model engine program.  “We still feel like we have a lot to learn with our open motor program, getting out on the road with the Lucas Oil series this year we are going to know where we stand on things and what improvements we can make for the future,” said the 42-year-old racer, who has made jaunts to Eldora and Cedar Lake the last few years in preparation for hitting the road full-time this year.

 “We decided towards the end of last year that we were going to run the Lucas Oil Series this year, we were eligible for the rookie-of-the year award and the races we had last year with the series where we did compete, we did pretty well. That gave us enough confidence to purse running full-time with the Lucas Oil Series in 2010.  “It is a very professional organization, the points payback is real good, alot of the races are on the weekend and that helps since we have a full-time job during the week with the alligator farm.” Said Wall, who also said this may not be a one year and done deal with the series.

 “If everything goes well and we do good, it is something we would consider doing for the next several years, we are realistic in saying that we don’t have a real good shot at winning a championship this year, we feel good about being competitive in the rookie points race, when you go to tracks like Bulls Gap and all the ones we’ve never been to this year, there’s nothing that replaces the seat time you need at some of these tracks. I think we are going to have to pay our dues this year,” said Wall who currently stands tied for fourth in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship points standings.

 While Wall may have his qualifying program down (he has four fast times so far this year) plus a new track record at East Bay, Wall knows he needs to improve his feature program.  Wall had a solid run going at Cherokee on Sunday running as high as third place before coming home in sixth in the final rundown, only completing races will Wall realize what it takes to compete on a regular basis with the tough Lucas Oil Series.

 Wall credits Ronnie Stuckey and Ronnie Rogers for much of his success.  “We have bought  MasterSbilt cars from Ronnie for several years, he has put us in good equipment and he goes to a lot of our races and teaches us things to know what adjustments and changes to make to the car at the track. Also the Wall2Wall Performance Engines, I no longer own that, even though our name is still on them, Ronnie Rogers is now the owner and he does a great job in the engine shop,” said Wall who currently leads the Quarter Master Rookie of the Year chase for the Lucas Oil Series with the guidance of crew chief Darrel Posey. 

 Wall’s appearance at Brownstown (IN) Speedway on March 27th for the "Indiana Icebreaker" yielded a front row start alongside eventual winner Jimmy Owens, but Wall faded quickly and finally dropped off the pace.  

While the results were less than satisfying, Wall had won a friendly wager with Indiana driver Chad Stapleton in Florida after Wall’s home state team, the New Orleans Saints, beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl last month. 

When Wall’s beloved Saints took home the Lombardi Trophy, that meant Stapleton would have to wear a Drew Brees uniform at Brownstown with Wall getting out of not having to put on a Peyton Manning jersey in front of the crowd.  Wall and the Saints have a lot in common - he was born on Christmas Day in 1967, the same year the Saints franchise began play in the National Football League.

 

Gray Court, S.C.'s Chris Madden all dressed for success before leading the early laps of the Spring Thaw at Bulls Gap, Tennessee and coming up with a second place to Ray Cook. (ThomasHendrickson)

  

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