Over the past two seasons, one of the most popular “what if” conversations dealt with Jared Schlipman behind the wheel of a lat model. In about 10 weeks we’ll be able to see how that all shakes out when he debuts as a UMP Super Late Model rookie.
Schlipman, who spent recent summers in a UMP modified winning one track title and always finishing among the points leaders, is the son of former IMCA Deery Brothers late model champ Terry Schlipman. The natural progression seemed obvious for Jared, although as race fans it’s kind of sad to see the rivalry with Steven DeLonjay, Dave Wietholder, Michal Long and other modified stars come to an end.
Schlipman’s move to late models, however, piqued my interest concerning what other local drivers might excel in that class. Here are eight I would like to see get a chance in one of the big rides:
• Jake Powers: “The Snake” is making the move to stock cars following the demise of the hobby stock division. Let’s give him a couple of seasons in that class and see what happens. Jake’s on-track improvement the past two years has been obvious and there’s no reason to doubt it will not continue. I think he’ be a perfect fit for a late model in the not-too-distant future, so his dad, Jerry, better get busy.
• Tanner Klingele: Here’s another youngster on the fast track to Bullring stardom. He’ll be concentrating solely on the sport mods this season. Still a teenager, Tanner will likely get offered a late model ride at some point in the next five or six years.
• Joe Bliven: Ol’ Clean Livin’ has modified fuel running in his veins, but I’d like to see him get a chance in a late model, if for only one season. Admittedly used to operating on a tight budget, he’d be a natural fit for a car owner who would need his driver to take care of equipment. There is no one on the planet who enjoys driving a race car more than Joe Boom.
• Bobby Anders: They say the same thing about Bobby as they do Michael Long — he can drive anything. I think the transition for him sport mod to late model would be an easy one, just like it was for a hobby stock to sport mod.
• Austen Becerra: I know, I know. One season does not a star make, but it’s hard not to take notice of what he did last year. I can almost guarantee if we see a repeat of that sport compact domination this season, Mr. Becerra will be fielding offers from some modified and/or stock car owners.
• Terry Houston: Is there a more consistent driver at 8000 Broadway? In addition, he knows how to both hit the kamikaze button if needed, or it back and “points race.” He’s proven about all he can in the stock cars, so … what about the spare late model TEAMFOUR has sittin’ around? Someone give Tony Dunker a call — here’s the late model driver for his fledgling empire.
• Abe Huls: I have a feeling Honest Abe could be the next Black Car Superstar in a late model. He knows only two words when on the Quincy quartermile: Go. Fast.
• Dave Wietholder: This has to happen. Dave has proven he can drive in any other class at the track. He would be a natural