MOUNT AIRY, NC – Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images North America photo – Racing often runs in the blood line and that adage stands true for the Fleming family, who are watching and crafting third generation racer Luke Fleming into a dominant competitor within the NASCAR WHELEN Southern Modified Tour.
Fleming, 27, has seen his techniques improve week-in and week-out, with the credit going to a generation past.
Retired modified racer Frank Fleming has been assisting his nephew Luke and helping him develop into a competitive driver; something that Luke isn’t overlooking and expects to help guide him throughout his career.
“Frank (Fleming) works with me hand-and-hand,” Fleming stated. “He’s guided me through a lot. Most situations that I’ve encountered he’s already been there once or twice. He’s already got a lot of knowledge, he can really help me (go along way).”
While one mentor would seemingly help a lot, Luke also can heed advice from his father Chris Fleming, who helped crew chief Frank’s modified for decades.
“My father (Chris) has a lot of knowledge on these chassis. He’s worked a great deal with Uncle Frank over the (decades). Alongside of Frank, those two know how to make these modified cars run (fast). So both have been a great help in our efforts. Frank and Chris have just been a huge asset in helping our race team.”
Combining all that wisdom together, it appeared that Luke would be destined for success and was expected to succeed, which he did.
It took Luke one race and one win at the Madhouse (Bowman-Gray Stadium) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to prove his legitimacy and live up to the Fleming name in racing.
“I’ve ran a lot of laps at Bowman Gray,” Fleming expressed. “I grew up watching my uncle and father win races there, so it’s like my hometrack. There was a series of events (that setup) my win; there was a larger wreck towards the end, which helped me out somewhat.”
“I just stayed out of trouble. I had a lot more tire save then the other drivers, which helped. But, I’ll tell you something, George Brunnhoelzl III run second to me, but those last 20-30 laps were the hardest I’ve ever raced. It was hard to stay ahead of him, but I pulled it off.”
While the win was a surreal moment, having his heroes (Uncle Frank and his father Chris) celebrating in victory lane with him after the triumph was indescribable, according to Luke.
“He (Frank) was racing in that event,” Fleming commented. “He was involved in an accident, so he was out of the race and got to see me run the last 20 or 30 laps. He was a big deal; it’s a big family affair.”
“And then my father was spotting for Frank, so both of them were taken out in the race. With that being said, they were able to watch the end of the race and they even came out on the track and celebrated with us. It was a really good deal.”
After clinching a full-time ride following his uncle’s retirement two seasons ago, Luke has yet to taste the champagne in Victory Lane so far, but has reached one personal and humbling goal: 2013 Rookie of the Year honors for the Southern Tour, giving him a multitude of confidence.
“It was a huge boost in confidence,” Fleming explained. “At the beginning of the season last year that’s what we set out to accomplish. We were very careful throughout the season to make sure we scored as many points as possible. I wasn’t able to take chances like drivers racing for just wins, I had to be careful and finish all the races I could.”
Following the rookie award, Luke and his organization are yearning better results and higher goals this season, but still realistic standards.
“We set out this season to finish top five in the points standings. Ending up in the top three or four (in the points) at the seasons end would make me very happy. I would feel like we really reached our goal. I’m looking forward to finishing up there in the points.”
Listen in as Race Chaser correspondent Marshall Gabell sat down with Luke to discuss his season-to-date, his family ties in the sport and much much more: