Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lee Faulk Racing feature (from a few years ago)

Faulk drivers getting experience at HMS

By Tom Gillispie

When Hickory Motor Speedway opened its season a few weeks ago, Lee Faulk Racing was well represented.

Three of the LFR racers were in the 24-car Late Model field. Justin Bolton finished seventh, Bret Holmes 10th and Kate Dallenbach 20th in the 100-lap Big 10 Race Challenge.

Last week, two Faulk drivers raced at Hickory. Holmes finished seventh in the 11-car Late Model race, and Marcus Lambert was seventh in the 18-car Limited race.

Faulk’s returning racers are Bolton and Enrique Baca Amador in Late Models and Lambert in Limiteds.

Michael Faulk says they chose HMS partly because it’s relatively close to their shop in Denver, N.C.

“We’ve been racing there since we started,” said Michael Faulk, 32.

Owner Lee Faulk, 57, says the track’s illustrious history is an attraction, but he adds, “It’s a NASCAR-sanctioned track, and that’s important for the kids. It’s attached to the NASCAR banner.

“Hickory’s also the hardest track we’ve been to,” he added. “We test there a lot, and it’s a neat place to race, really. There’s good Saturday-night racing there.”

On race days, Michael and Lee act as crew chiefs or spotters. In the season opener, Michael Faulk was the crew chief for Dallenbach.

Dallenbach, the 17-year-old daughter of former Cup driver Wally Dallenbach Jr., is in her first year in Late Models. She plans to run the 10 Paramount Kia Big 10 Racing Challenge races, and she’s also doing some dirt racing.

Bolton has moved up to Late Models after running Limited Late Models at HMS last year. He ran just six races but won twice and posted one second-place finish, one fourth-place finish and a sixth-place finish. “He's a natural,” Lee Faulk said. “Very few drivers have caught on as immediately as he has. He listens well.”

Bolton is a freshman at UNC Charlotte, majoring in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Motorsports.

Holmes says his plans are to run a full season at HMS and also run 15 to 20 dirt Super Late Model races. He might run the All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn., and the Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla. Those come at the end of the year, after he gets more asphalt experience.

Lambert, 18, is a high-school senior in Woodbridge, Va.  He’ll attend the University of Northwestern Ohio this fall and take the High Performance Motorsports and Automotive Technology programs.  

One of the most notable past LFR racers at HMS was Pietro Fittipaldi, who won a Limited title at Hickory in 2011; then he raced a season of Late Models before going to open-wheel cars last year.

Venezuelan Christian Calvo won a Late Model race late last season for LFR, but he’s moved elsewhere this year.

Both Faulks have racing backgrounds. Lee won races in the All-American Challenge Series, and he ran three Cup races in 1982, finishing 23rd at Richmond, 20th at Charlotte and 32nd at North Wilkesboro. He started six Busch (now Nationwide) Series races, one in ’83 (finishing 26th at Charlotte) and five races in 1989 (with a best of 18th at Charlotte in Florida).

After retiring as a driver, he built cars and then started LFR in 2006.

Michael raced various divisions in Florida before trying the NASCAR All-Pro Series in 2003 and the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2005. He still races Late Models on occasion, but he says he won’t race against LFR’s clients. He might race this fall at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway or somewhere when the clients are idle.

He says LFR has four full-time employees and one part-timer, and they add more part-time help for weekends.

Michael says the worst thing about the job is watching their drivers get better during the season, win once or twice, then move somewhere else the next season.

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