Michigan Driver Pilots Colorful Car To Division IV National Title
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – On the race track it’s nearly impossible for fans or competitors to miss Cole Roelofs.
That’s because the 33-year-old driver from Dorr, Michigan, who competes in the Kalamazoo Vapors 4-Cylinder class at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway and the Outlaw Cyber Stock class at another Michigan track, Kalamazoo Speedway, with his car wrapped with a bright orange and green scheme.
As Roelofs tells it, the scheme came about thanks to a partnership with an old friend from high school who owns Wrap Tek, a local business specializing in vinyl wraps for cars of all shapes and sizes.
“I love green and ever since we started putting green and orange on the car, I’ve been winning. So I’m like, well, we just need to go green and orange,” said Roelofs, who also receives sponsorship from C.J.’s Coating and Sealing, HD Photo, D&B Heat Transfer and Quick Start Batteries. “I went to high school with the owner and he contacted me and said, ‘Hey man, I’ll wrap your car for free if you put my name on it.’ I said awesome, I’m down with that because I know what wrapping costs.
“So me and my wife went on vacation for our anniversary and we sat on the iPad and looked through tons of different stuff and that’s what we came back with,” Roelofs recalled. “We sent it to him and he went, ‘Wow, that’s bright.’ Everybody has a black car or a blue car or a red car. Those are the main colors racers always pick. I have a nephew and he loves coming to the races and watching and I always want him to know which car I am out there. He knows green and orange so if it’s a green and orange car, it’s probably me.”
Roelofs isn’t just about showing off with the color of his race car. He also likes to show off with his performance on the race track. His performance was so good this year that he captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division IV National championship.
In 17 starts between Berlin and Kalamazoo, Roelofs won seven times while also collecting 14 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. That gave him the Division IV National championship by 21 points over Oklahoma competitor Nathan Campbell. All seven of his victories came at Berlin, where he also captured the Kalamazoo Vapors 4-Cylinder track championship for the second time in his career.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V drivers are ranked by their best 14 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and two points for a win, with an additional three points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
The chance for Roelofs to race for the Division IV National championship came about after Berlin Raceway became a NASCAR-sanctioned track prior to the 2016 season. Unfortunately he ran into a small problem when he tried to chase the Division IV title last year.
“I live 30 miles in between two NASCAR tracks. I live 30 miles from Kalamazoo and 30 miles from Berlin. When Berlin became a NASCAR track that really kind of opened my eyes,” said Roelofs, who credits his wife Heather and brothers Chay and Chad for supporting him during his march toward the NASCAR title. “Now I have two tracks that I have a good chance to try and get some points. Last year we tried it and the 4-cylinder division (at Berlin) and the division that Kalamazoo Speedway has, it wouldn’t coincide with both to get the same (national) points. I tried it, but it didn’t work. At Berlin, it was in Division V then.”
Luckily for Roelofs, Berlin switched the 4-cylinder division from Division V to Division IV for the 2017 season. That was music to his ears.
“This year they changed the points and they (Berlin) made it Division IV. That’s what really helped me out this year,” Roelofs said.
It’s been a long road for Roelofs to get to the Division IV National championship. He started his racing career by competing in demolition derbies when he was 16, but the demolition part of the demolition derbies began to get a little frustrating for him.
“I got sick of having to build a car every time we went to the races for the demolition derby,” Roelofs said. “So I got into what they call off-road racing or bump-and-run racing, where you go over jumps with front-wheel drive cars. I did that for three or four years and it was the same thing, you’d end up having to build four or five cars or six cars some seasons just to continue the season.”
Finally, in 2009, Roelofs and a friend got together and built a 4-cylinder car to race at Berlin Raceway. Fast forward to 2017 and Roelofs is officially a NASCAR National champion. He’ll be honored during NASCAR Home Tracks Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame/Charlotte Convention Center on Dec. 8.
It’s all still a little surreal according to Roelofs.
“It feels awesome,” Roelofs said. “A lot of people don’t understand when you say. ‘I won a division in NASCAR.’ They’re like, ‘Come on, NASCAR?’ I’m like well, yeah. You kind of have to go through it. I wish people realized just how big a deal this is. You’re not just racing against your local guys. You’re racing against guys all across the country in all different styles and divisions of cars. I know the guy that got second, he was in a dirt car, a street stock. I won it in a front-wheel drive car. It’s so crazy to realize that. I’m going to get recognized for winning a NASCAR points title. I wouldn’t have thought it, that’s for sure.”