4 Cyl Champ takes on Street Stockers: A Conversation with “Cool-Hand Luc”

Luc McLaughlin won the 2012 Fredericton Jewelers Four Cylinder title by being one of Speedway 660’s most consistent drivers. Luc quietly went about his business last year and more often than not finished on the podium. Wade Wilson recently spoke with Luc McLaughlin to see if he plans on taking the same approach to the Street Stock Division in 2013.

Wade: That was a great effort last year. What did it mean to you to win the Fredericton Jewelers Four Cylinder Division Championship?

Luc: It meant a lot to me to win the title because this division is very competitive. There were lots of new and returning drivers out there who could have won the championship, had things gone differently. I got lots of help to be able to go racing and a lot of hard work went into the season, especially from my Dad who helped me build the car two weeks before the season started. It feels good to know the late nights in the garage, after getting home from my day job, paid off in the end. It was a very good feeling to follow up a rookie of the year season with a hard fought championship run.

Wade: Last season you were one of the most consistent drivers at Speedway 660. Not too hot and never too cold. How did you manage to be so consistent in a division that gets a little wild and crazy at times?

Luc: I think the biggest reason for my consistency was the change to a much more patient driving style during the year. In the four cylinder division the front of the pack often gets really rough during the first few laps before the cars get spread out. Staying back a little and giving other drivers room to beat each other up off the start, often gave me a chance to drive around the spins and wrecks to get closer to the front where I had some room to get aggressive again. A good group of guys in the pits and lots of help from other teams also kept the car in good shape for consistent and predictable racing.

 
Luc McLaughlin followed up his 2011 Rookie of the Year season with Speedway 660′s
Four cylinder division championship last season. This year Luc is running for Rookie
of the year in our Street Stock division. Luc’s father Gilbert (left) is his son’s biggest
supporter.
   

Wade: It’s always great to see drivers move up a division. What motivated you to take the next step in your racing career?

Luc: I have been contemplating the idea of moving up since the end of last season. The four cylinder division is lots of fun and affordable and was a good way for me to get my first taste at racing. I’m looking now to try something a little bigger and street stock is the next logical step. When the opportunity came up to buy the car I have now, it was a very easy decision and great way to move in that direction. 

Wade: Good equipment is important in racing and you’ve got a pretty good car. How do you feel about driving out onto Speedway 660 in the same car that Shannon “The Cannon” Brake used to win the 2012 street stock title?

Luc: Shannon and his team have been working on this car for several years to get it to where it is now. It feels good to know that I have a very competitive car. Now I can focus on improving my driving skills a bit more and try to become competitive in street stock. A lot of work goes into these cars and it is nice to have someone to show you the ropes on how they work and how to drive them. It’s a good opportunity for me to develop as a driver in a division that is sure to be exciting and challenging.

Wade: The four cylinders are front wheel drive. Your street stock is an eight cylinder and a rear wheel drive. How big of an adjustment is it to jump into a car with a lot more power and an old school drive-train?

Luc: It will be a huge adjustment for me to get used to how different these cars handle. I am not new to rear wheel drive vehicles completely, but it is my first time driving one around the track. My approach to driving will have to be a lot different and it will be a learning curve this year for sure. My approach to setting the car up will also have to be a lot different because I am used to getting all my traction from the wrong end of the car! 

Wade: Street stock is tough racing. There are some wily veterans out there and this year quite a few rookies. What are your biggest challenges and do you feel intimidated by guys who’ve been in this division for many years?

Luc: My biggest challenge this year will be getting used to the power these cars have compared to the four cylinder machines. They are also a lot bigger when it comes to passing and you need more room to make a move. As far being intimidated by the veterans of this division, I believe everyone out there had to start at some point and I’m no different. All I can do is race as hard as I can and try not to make too many enemies out there. But I’m sure I’ll get roughed up a little, being one of the new guys, but that’s to be expected. As they say rubbing is racing.

Wade: I know you are anxious to get your street stock season going, but you are a young guy and fans will likely want to know what your long terms plans in racing are?

Luc: For now I am happy to have the opportunity to race in Speedway 660’s street stock division and you just never know where I’ll be a few years down the road. With any luck we will continue to move up thru the ranks but we have a big challenge in front of us this year in this division so that is what we are concentrating on for now.

Wade: Drivers rely on family support, strong race teams and generous sponsors. Who are the folks helping you go racing in our competitive street stock division this year?

Luc: I would like to thank my family and friends who helped me get into racing and continue to help me out with my newest challenge. My Dad is my number one supporter. He helped me build my 4 cylinder cars and is my go-to guy in the pits. I’ve got a lot of friends who help and I want to thank Ben, Sparky and Tony for being my pit crew this year. I’d also like to thank my girlfriend for putting up with my nonstop car talk and lots of late nights in the garage. I’d like to thank my sponsors this year including A&J Hanna Construction, Tom Goodine Signs and Graphics, O’Town Auto, Napa Auto Parts and our newest sponsor The Bulb Spot. We are always looking for new sponsorship partners to help us make this year successful. Last but not least I would like to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us every week. Without them there would be no racing at all.

Wade: Good luck this season Luc. If you can bring the same consistent approach you used to win the four cylinder title to street stock, I am sure it will be a great year for you at Speedway 660.

Luc: Thanks Wade. I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing how it turns out. With a little luck and a lot of hard work perhaps you will see the “Flying Frenchman” visit victory lane this year. All of us drivers are excited to get going and make this 20th year the best in Speedway 660 history.              

           

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