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Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Late-starting Long looks to take next step forward in USRA B-Mod division

Lucas Oil Speedway
Mark Long achieved a goal last season by finishing in the top 10 of Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod points at Lucas Oil Speedway. (Kenny Shaw photo)

Lyndal Scranton / Oval Track News

Mark Long got a later start racing than most of his dirt-track peers, jumping from an iRacing seat in his living room five years ago into the driver’s seat of a used B-Mod.

“I had no background at all in racing, other than spectating and iRacing,” Long said. “I had always wanted to drive a race car. But as I got older, I wondered if it ever was going to happen.”

The 44-year-old from Willard, Missouri polished off his best season yet in 2019, finishing eighth in the highly competitive Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod points at Lucas Oil Speedway. He’s ready to chase new heights as a new season in the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series is set to begin on May 16.

“My goal was to finish in the top 10 in points and I was proud to finish where I did, against such a high level of competition,” Long said of last season. “But I wasn’t quite satisfied with my finishes. I’m wanting to win. That’s my goal, but boy it is tough up there.

“It’s unbelievable how good some of those guys are. To win at Lucas Oil Speedway in a B-Mod, you’ve got to go around three (USRA) national champions.”

Those are two-time reigning champion Kris Jackson, along with past national champs JC Morton and Andy Bryant. Simply racing against those guys, only a few years ago, seemed like a far-fetched dream for Long.

But while iRacing regularly with several drivers, including fellow Willard resident and racer Kaeden Cornell, Long was encouraged by several to take his passion from simulation to the real dirt.

“It was a pretty rocky road those first couple of years, trying to learn so much stuff,” Long said. “I had no background to draw from, but I had so much help from my buddies who raced. Kaeden Cornell, I went to school with his mom and dad. They have been great and have helped me so much. The Cornells are like family and Kaeden is like a little brother to me.

“My buddy Nathan Gold always raced and he helped me so much. Nathan passed away last year. I really want to win one for Nate this year. That would be really cool. He was a veteran racer that didn’t mind me asking dumb questions. He helped me so much, as did so many people.”

Long said getting accepted into the racing family has been the most-rewarding aspect of his experience.

“When I’m done racing, what I’ll remember most is all the great people that I met through racing. I’ve made so many good friends,” he said.

Long is looking to continue improving his racing program and has tried to turn the delayed start to the season, due to the coronavirus pandemic, into a positive.

“Since we weren’t in a rush to get to racing, and weren’t spending money on racing, I was able to put that money back into my car and make some improvements,” Long said, adding that finding the right balance between traction and motor strength will be a big key.

Long said life can be hectic, working on his car during the week after working a full-time job during the day. His dad, Ronnie, pulls the car and trailer to the track and helps with maintenance as much as he can. Daughter Madison (15) and son Landon (11) are Mark Long’s biggest fans.

“When I get down after I don’t finish well, they’re always there for me and telling me how good I did,” Long said. “They also help me (with the car) as much as they can.”

Team sponsors include Cloverleaf Auto Repair, Wilson’s Logistics and Left Lane LLC Trucking.

“It’s been an unbelievable challenge to do this, but it’s been very rewarding,” Long said.

For ticket questions or information for any event this season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email her at nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com for more information.

REVISED 2020 LUCAS OIL SPEEDWAY SCHEDULE
May 9 – Open Test & Tune (no spectators)

May 11 – Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series practice (no spectators)

May 12-13 – Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, $7,000-to-win features each night (no spectators. Both events will air live on LucasOilRacing.TV and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Facebook)

May 16 – Weekly Championship Series No. 1 – Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Night at the Races Presented by Ozarks First (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $750 to win Street Stocks)
May 23 – Weekly Championship Series No. 2 – Presented by Ozarks FOX (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $1,000 to win USRA Modifieds)
May 30 – Weekly Championship Series No. 3 – Presented by Benne Media (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $1,000 to win ULMA Late Models)

June 6 – Weekly Championship Series No. 4 – TA/Petro Night at the Races Presented by ThunderBurst Media (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $750 to win B-Mods sponsored by Rains Ice)
June 13-14 – Inaugural Drag Boat Summer Thunder on Lake Lucas (KDBA)
June 13 – Weekly Championship Series No. 5 – Presented by iHeart Media (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $750 to win Street Stocks)
June 20 – Weekly Championship Series No. 6 – Bolivar Herald-Free Press Mid-Season Championships Presented by KTTS (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods, Pure Stocks with $1,000 to win USRA Modifieds)
June 26-27 – Lucas Oil Invitational Pro Bull Ride Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com (Amped Up Productions)

July 2 – Weekly Championship Series No. 7 – Casey’s General Stores Thursday Night Thunder Kids’ Night at the Races, plus Fireworks Presented by KY3 (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $1,000 to win ULMA Late Models sponsored by Rains Ice)
July 4 – No racing unless otherwise scheduled
July 11 – Weekly Championship Series No. 8 – Veterans and Military Appreciation Night Presented by KOZL 27 (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods, Mod Lites with $750 to win B-Mods)
July 18 – 28th annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com with $20,000 to win (LOLMDS/MLRA)
July 19 – 14th annual CMH Diamond Nationals with $12,000 to win (LOLMDS/MLRA)
July 25 – Weekly Championship Series No. 9 – Ozarks Food Harvest Food Drive Night Presented by KOLR 10, KOZL 27, Ozarks Fox (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods with $750 to win Street Stocks)

Aug. 1 – Weekly Championship Series No. 10 – Fan Appreciation Night Presented by KY3 Digital/Ozone (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods, Show-Me Vintage Racers with $1,000 to win USRA Modifieds)
Aug. 8 – 11th annual USMTS Slick-Mist Show-Me Shootout Presented by Foley Equipment (USMTS, B-Mods, SS)
Aug. 15 – Weekly Championship Series No. 11 – NMI Night at the Races Presented by Wild Animal Safari (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods, Pure Stocks with $1,000 to win ULMA Late Models)
Aug. 21-23 – 4th annual Off Road Shootout (Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series)
Aug. 22 – Weekly Championship Series No. 12 – Rempfer Memorial SeasonChampionship Night Presented by Bill Roberts Chevrolet-Buick and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital-Springfield (LM, Mod, SS, B-Mods as class champions crowned)
Aug. 29 – No racing unless otherwise scheduled

Sept. 5 – Lucas Oil MLRA Ron Jenkins Memorial Presented by Rugged Radios (MLRA, B-Mods, Street Stocks)
Sept. 5-6 – 9th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals (SDBA/KDBA)
Sept. 12 – No racing unless otherwise scheduled
Sept. 17-19 – 10th annual ASCS/WAR Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial (ASCS Sprint Cars, WAR Sprint Cars)
Sept. 25-26 – Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Nationals (Lucas Oil PPL)

Oct. 1-3 – 7th annual Big Buck 50 Presented by Whitetail Trophy Hunt (Street Stocks, ULMA Late Models)
Oct. 8-10 – 7th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals (MLRA, B-Mods)
Oct. 17 – No racing unless otherwise scheduled
Oct. 24 – O’Reilly Auto Parts Outlaw Monster Truck Show – Eve of Destruction (Monster Trucks)

Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.