NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL — In his first ever pro late model race driving for Whitlock Driver Development/FMI Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Eatonton, Georgia racer Rafe Slate raced his way to a fourth place finish.
Slate, 17, qualified fourth but was scheduled to start on the pole due to a field invert. Lady luck momentarily caused him stress as the pedal linkage on his clutch broke on his way to the starting grid. The team was able to fix the issue but instead of starting up front, he now had to start in the back.
“We started eighth and we pretty quickly made the way up to fourth,” the personable young racer said. “Half of a lap after we took over fourth we had a caution that ended up being a red flag. The tow truck had to push start me. I had a very strong restart and was able to clear Brad May on the outside for third, but then the next lap I overdrove the car going into turn one and he got back under me easily. Brad later went on to win the race. I ran very consistent times for the balance of the race and finished fourth. I learned a lot about the car and the track and ultimately felt like I got as much out of the car as I could. Thanks to God for a safe race. I also can’t thank Ronnie Whitlock, Whitlock Driver Development, FMI Racing and my family enough for this opportunity. I am overall very pleased with the way I performed.”
Next up for Rafe and the Solid Rock Performance team will be a return to the legends car for the US Legends Asphalt Nationals Championship event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 27.
Follow Rafe and the team on Facebook (Solid Rock Performance Racing), Twitter (@RafeSlate, @SolidRockPerformance_8) and Instagram @RafeSlate, @SolidRockPerformance_Racing).
In Early 2016 he attended a legends driving school at Atlanta Motor Speedway. One month later he competed in his first career race, where he finished fifth. In his rookie season Rafe racked up an impressive 16 top fives and three wins in 26 starts. which allowed him to finish fourth in both Georgia State Series Points as well as Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder series standings.
Rafe also has gained a very loyal fanbase and was named 2016 Reed Sorenson Most Popular Driver.
In 2017 Rafe stepped up to the US Legend Cars Semi-Pro series and finished second in points for the Winter Flurry and 2nd in points for the Thursday Thunder Championship with 1 win, 9 top 5s and 1 top 10, all of this at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
He placed ninth in national points as well. Overall, he completed his season with 11 wins and 20 top five finishes. He also was the winner of The Joey Logano “Breakthrough Driver of the Year” at Atlanta.
Rafe is racing in the Pro division in 2018. He finished second in the Winter Flurry Series standings at Atlanta and is currently second in national points.