IOWA DRIVER SET FOR MOVE TO DIVISION IV AFTER A TITLE
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Luke Ramsey has come a long way since he first decided he was ready to start racing.
“I had been going to dirt tracks since I was about four-years-old, I went with a neighbor every week,” Ramsey said. “I had a friend I was pit crewing for and he told me that I was better at the whole racing deal than him and he asked me to drive his car.”
At first glance, it seems like a great idea. What better way to see if you have the ability to get the job done. But, the first few laps on the track didn’t exactly end up how he was hoping they would.
“The first time I drove it, I put it right in the frontstretch wall,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t really do that well right away.”
Fast-forward nearly a decade and Ramsey is celebrating his first NASCAR Whelen All American Series national championship, but he’s no stranger to success. Ramsey has won three consecutive titles in the Hobby Stock division at Adams County Speedway in Iowa and the last two in the same class at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska.
This year, he made the step to chasing the Division V national championship and accomplished his goal. He won 22 of his 47 starts and finished inside the top-five in 38 races, besting Stafford Motor Speedway’s George Bessette Jr. by 27 points.
RACING-REFERENCE: Final Division V Point Standings
“We actually tried to chase the Division V championship last year, but we were unsuccessful because of the car count. We tried to start 12th as many nights as we could and we pulled off some dominating victories,” Ramsey said. “My motto has always been like Dale Earnhardt. Sometimes, it’s not the fastest cars that win the race, sometimes, it’s the ones that refuse to lose. I know if I can’t win I have to be as high up as a I can to gain as many points as I can.”
Ramsey’s success story comes at two tracks that have stout competition each week, but he seems to slice his way through traffic with ease. This year, Ramsey spent just as much time working on the race car as he did trying to figure out if he was going to have a shot at scoring the national crown. His nights making a tally of the points in the shop ended up helping out.
“My first year before I started racing, I said I could win the world, but after I started, I realized it’s a whole lot harder than it really is. I kept changing my program until I finally found something comfortable enough to win,” Ramsey said. “When I started winning, I set my goals on track championships and national championships. Last year, I decided we were getting close to a Division V championship and I started keeping track of the other drivers to see how they were finishing. We’d know as soon as we were done racing Saturday if we gained or lost any points. I think we knew in our spreadsheet before NASCAR even put the results out.”
For Ramsey, who didn’t necessarily come from a racing background, the last few years of success at the highest level have been humbling.
“All of our community around here is agriculture based, so for us to come from something like this and go to Charlotte and experience the red carpet and the banquet, it’s just phenomenal,” he said. “It means you feel like you’re driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It was kinda emotional for our whole crew on the last week to see us on top. We all worked really hard to get there. My wife really has gone above and beyond to even let us go do all this racing. We did a lot this year.”
The simple question for Ramsey when you look at his statistics from this season is how is one driver able to amass that many victories and top-fives, especially racing at two different tracks on back-to-back nights at the end of the week?
“We do our homework. We check the car by tearing it down and making sure it’s ready to go, while making sure we have the best of the best when we get to the track,” he said. “When I load the car on the trailer, I have confidence in the car that I will win and that none of the parts on it are going to fail. We unload, change the gears, check the car, sleep for a few hours then get up and do it all over again.”
Luckily for the newest Division V champion, he finds time to spend with his family in a sport where time away from home is crucial in order to succeed at the highest level. How do you fix that? Bring everyone right along with you.
“My kids have fortunately been brought up in the racing life. I’ve been racing since they were born, so they understand how things work and what we have to do to the car. My brother-in-law got started in racing with me, but in general, I’ve just been fortunate to find guys who have an interest in racing,” Ramsey said. “Without them, there is no way I could have pulled this all off.”
“The best accomplishment at the end of the night is pulling across the scales knowing that I won and seeing my son or my daughter waving at me and giving me a thumbs up.”
And after a season filled with trophies, Ramsey isn’t about to slow down. In fact, he already has plans to move up to NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division IV and chase that championship next season.
“We actually built another car and got it done in the middle of the season, we used it somewhere around six times to get it dialed in, and the first six nights I only finished outside the top five once, but on the last night, I started dead last and won the race. I feel confident that I can at least compete in Division IV and have a shot,” he said.
“Hopefully we can start the season off running.”