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Losh $10,000 richer after winning Dirt Nationals race

Dirt Nationals

Dirt Nationals

Losh $10,000 richer after winning Dirt Nationals race

Dirt Nationals

By HARLEY TOMLINSON / Oval Track News

Rensselaer’s hometown racer Derek Losh is 1 for 2 in the Gateway Nationals race.

Losh, 33, claimed a payout of $10,000 for winning the Modified division Dec. 21 at the Arizona Sports Shirt Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis.

Three divisions raced for cash during the event, which was held at the Dome at America Center, which was once home for the former NFL team St. Louis Rams.

Losh and his team were invited to participate in the national race for the second straight year after winning 18 races among 36 starts on dirt tracks in Indiana and Illinois this summer.

“Between 50, 60 cars in our division are invited and all we are all good at what we do,” said Losh, who is a 2005 graduate of Rensselaer Central High School and obtained a mechanical engineering degree from Indiana State University. “So anyone of those 50, 60 drivers could win at nationals.”

Last year, Losh qualified for the prelims but fell short of competing in the Modified finals.

“You have to have a good qualifying race to set you up for the preliminary,” he said. “We finished second in the preliminary and felt good going into the final.”

Losh felt improved track conditions led to much better races this year. Besides Modified drivers, the event invited the nation’s best dirt drivers in Super Late Model and Midgets.

Dirt Nationals
Steve Loper Photo

“They reconfigured the track so that there was more banking,” Losh said. “They changed it so that you could go three-wide, which makes for a more challenging race. Last year it was much slower with a lot less passing.”

Losh earned $10,000 for winning his division race, another $1,500 for placing second in the preliminary a day earlier, and a $1,500 cash bonus from Comp Cams for winning the Modified race.

A Great Lakes area sales manager with Talberts Manufacturing, Losh began racing in midget races in Kokomo and Indianapolis at the age of 11. He’s been a dirt track driver for nearly a decade and competes at tracks in Plymouth, Kokomo, Gas City and Mountpelier in Indiana, and Farmer City and Fairbury in Illinois.

A few years ago, Losh made a decision that brought almost instant success. He bought a new chassis and aligned himself with Brian Ruhlman Race Cars of Michigan.

Ruhlman, who is one of Losh’s sponsors, provided a technically superior engine that helped Losh and his team keep pace with other drivers.

“The last couple of years, the sport has changed drastically as far as the tech is involved,” Losh said. “There used to be a hobby division, but now guys race professionally and year around. Some have ties to NASCAR teams, so it’s very competitive now.”

Losh’s other sponsors include Superior Sales and Service of Rensselaer, which provides news of Losh’s successes on its Facebook page almost every weekend, as well as Rensselaer Iron and Metal. He also has sponsor decals of KBC Graphics of Illinois and Mullin’s Race Engines of St. Louis splashed on his car.

Besides providing employment, Talbert Manufacturing also sponsors Losh’s team.

“For a lot of guys, this is their full-time job,” Losh said. “For me, it’s hard to find extra hours to keep pace. But they (Talbert’s) are pretty cool about that stuff. When it’s racing season, I’m usually cutting out at around lunch time and they’ve been really supportive of what I do.”