Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Young Franklin gaining experience, momentum in USRA B-Mod division
Wheatland, Missouri (July 26, 2018) - After he failed to qualify for the first three Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod feature races of Lucas Oil Speedway's season, Mitchell Franklin could have quickly loaded up his car and gone home.
Instead, the 19-year-old from Camdenton found a good viewing area from the pit-side grandstands and watched intently while taking mental notes. He still goes to racing school, even now in features while chasing the frontrunners.
"I do a lot of watching," Franklin said. "I watch all of those guys in the front. This is our first year in a B-Mod and my second year of racing overall. I didn't really have a handle on how to drive the track and, watching guys like (Kris) Jackson, (Taylor) Moore and others in the front ... I kind of picked up some driving techniques that have really helped."
Young Franklin not only has qualified for five straight features, he's posted four top-10 finishes along the way and climbed all the way to sixth in the ultra-competitive division's points chase.
This week's Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight Driver of the Week will look to keep his momentum and racing education growing when the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series resumes on Saturday night as OnMedia/DISH/DirecTV Presents the program.
Fans gain free admission by bringing four non-perishable food items as part of Ozarks Food Harvest Food Drive Night at the Races. Gates open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30 and opening ceremonies at 7:05.
Franklin and his F1 car have been getting more and more calls from the track announcers in recent weeks, including a 12th-to-8th run in last Saturday's caution-free 25-lap main event won by Jackson. Franklin said it's a pleasant turnaround from the first few weeks.
"The start of our season was pretty rough," Franklin said. "We just didn't have a handle on the car and I made a couple of mistakes. We were just getting ourselves in some bad situations.
"We built a brand-new race car this year and we finally have a good baseline set-up on it that we can adjust and tune to the track a little better. We've helped ourselves and had a little better results."
While Mitchell is a relative newcomer, the Franklin name isn't new around Lucas Oil Speedway. Josh Franklin, Mitchell's dad, raced Street Stocks for a couple of seasons before building some top-notch cars in that division.
"He has an 8-to-5 job now, so he's not as hot and heavy into building car as he used to be," Mitchell Franklin said. "But he's still heavily involved in the sport."
Mitchell Franklin got his racing start a year ago, driving a Midwest Mod at Lebanon Midway Speedway. He said it seemed a natural progression to move up to a B-Mod this season at Lucas Oil Speedway, where he hung out so often as a kid and often cheered for Street Stock driver Kenny Carroll, also from Camdenton.
"It's what I've known my whole life. I always wanted to race," Mitchell Franklin said. "When I was seven or eight, I had a sprint cart, but it scared me to death. I didn't want to race again until I was a little more mature and understood it a little better.
"My dad is good friends with Kenny Carroll and he's always been one of my favorites. I've learned a lot from him. Also, Kris Jackson has been a real good influence. I used to go to the track when I was little and he'd be one I'd root for."
Like a host of other young drivers, Franklin also credits veteran Modified driver Mike Striegel as a positive influence and said Pro 4 Off Road driver CJ Greaves is a racer he admires from afar.
No matter what happens the rest of the 2018 season, it's been a year of progression for Franklin. He's positioned himself to accomplish a primary goal of finishing top 10 in points and thus earning recognition as the Lucas Oil Speedway postseason awards banquet.
"We'd also love a top-five feature finish and a trip to the tech shed," Franklin said. "That would really top off our year."
Franklin's sponsors include MoBell Audio, Kenny Carroll Excavating, Hawken Carstar, Whitetail Trophy Hunt, Duke's Auto Body, Kansas City Off Road Racing Association, B&G Custom Fabrication, Hendrix Construction and Ruble Racing Engines.
The Big O Tires Street Stocks will be the featured class on Saturday night, running a special 25-lap, $750-to-win main event. Drivers entering this week's action will receive 50 free admission tickets for the Season Championship races on Aug. 25.
(Free with four non-perishable food items)
Adults (16 and over) $12
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $9
Youth (ages 6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family pass $25
Pit pass $30
Earlier on Saturday, the Kansas City Off Road Racing Association will be in action at the Lucas Oil Speedway Off Road track. Race classes will include 170 kids UTV, 1000 UTV, Unlimited/Turbo UTV, 1600 limited Buggy, Super Buggy, Formula 4X4 and Mini Stock/Bro Lite trucks. Gates will open at 9 a.m. with practice at 10 a.m., the first round of racing at noon and the final round at approximately 3 p.m. Times are subject to change based on number of entries.
Off Road admission prices
(Includes dirt-track admission)
Adults (16 and over) $15
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $12
Youth (ages 6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Racer pit pass $30
For ticket information on all events at Lucas Oil Speedway in 2018, contact admission director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or by email at nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets for any event on the 2018 schedule.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.