KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Story and Audio by Race Chaser Senior Editor Tom Baker — Brian Nagy photo — How many young race fans do you know that dream of someday getting behind the wheel of a race car and winning a race?
For 13-year-old Kannapolis, North Carolina racer Kodie Conner, that dream became a reality last Saturday when he strapped into his orange “tiger stripes” No. 45, started sixth and walked off with the win in the PASS Pro Late Model race at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C.
Kodie is no stranger to victory lane, having won numerous races and championships in Quarter-Midgets and Bandoleros, but this was the finest hour of his young career. It is a career that would appear to be just bulging at the seems to bust out to new heights. He is a third generation racer, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and uncle.
Surely the potential is there as is the character, drive and dedication. Kodie has been on a steady workout regimen since he was 8 years old. He works on his car and soaks up the advice and wisdom of others around him, most notably Jeff Fultz, a championship racer, driver coach, car builder and crew chief in his own right.
Kodie credits Fultz for his improving performance this year in the Late Models (this is Kodie’s first full season in the “big cars”) and is thankful for all of his help, along with the sacrifices that his family make for him to be able to go racing, of course. This is not a team of vast resources. Their budget would leave others wondering how they achieve the results they do.
Kodie Conner Racing’s story is very much one of hard work, dedication and the will to succeed.
The driver’s “brand” is a successful chemistry of color, confidence and commitment. His unique “tiger stripes” paint scheme makes him popular with the fans, especially the younger ones. His mature, friendly personality belies his age and leads many people to believe he’s 15 or older. His dedication to constant improvement helps him to gain confidence and perform better each time out on the track.
Spend ten minutes with Kodie and the leadership potential is obvious. It is that ability to communicate with his younger peers that has led to him mentoring racers in the Bandolero series where he cut his own teeth. NASCAR racer Travis Kvapil’s son Carson is among those fortunate enough to be able to look up to and be coached by Kodie.
And surely, with all that the young man has going for him, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Listen in below as we had the chance to visit this young professional at his race shop following his major victory at Ace and talk with him for our Thursday night Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show: