WOODHULL, N.Y. — Story by Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Correspondent Steven Ovens — Turn 5 Live on PMN audio — Woodhull Raceway and Billy Van Pelt Racing photos —
Billy Van Pelt is a hallowed name in the Southern Tier of New York when it comes to dirt modified racing.
Prior to 2014, the man had won 15 track championships on the highbanks of the Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, New York. However, in the offseason prior to 2014, the man known for dominance was without a ride when his 2013 car owner decided it was time to put the racing hobby on the shelf.
Enter Grant Hilfiger — Stage Right.
In January — when drivers without rides or plans for the coming race season start to get a bit nervous — Hilfiger and Van Pelt connected.
Hilfiger, who is very busy with two businesses of his own, wasn’t even sure that going racing in 2014 was something his team would be doing. Then the opportunity to field a car for the 15-time champion presented itself.
As they often say in racing, the rest was history.
Van Pelt was yet again a dominant force at Woodhull. Having taken in several shows at Woodhull myself- it was clear that ‘Billy The Kid’ got his swagger back. The BVP of old had returned and the No. 78 team gave the Modified division in 2014 fits. Van Pelt won six regular season races, with win number seven coming on a very special night that included the Lyle Sherwood Memorial. Six wins, 16 top-fives and track championship No. 16 was the end result of their dominant season.
Hilfiger sat down in the seat of the backup No. 78 on a limited schedule and looks to do the same in 2015. Van Pelt will return to the seat of the No. 78 primary car again in 2015 and will set his sights on track championship No. 17 along with the North Region Short Track Super Series events. Certainly the August 11 running of ‘Hustlin the Highbanks 51’ event at Woodhull is an event on the North Region Series that Hilfiger and Van Pelt will have circled on the calendar in the race shop. That will be a hometown show paying $5,100 to the victor. Even with the strong competition on the Short Track Super Series, you have to put Van Pelt in as the odds on favorite for that one.
2015 will also see the Hilfiger fleet solely occupied by chassis built by Bicknell Racing Products. The move to Bicknell was one that Hilfiger has embraced with the success of his hired shoe, who has had a long-standing relationship with Bicknell. Those Bicknell chassis will be once again powered by Morgantini Racing Engines out of Pennsylvania.
Hilfiger stopped by for two segments in the Turn 5 Live hot seat last week and talked to Steven, Clint and Brad about the magical year they had in 2014 and all that is being prepared for 2015’s assault on the dirt.
Grant Hilfiger Part 1:
Grant Hilfiger Part 2: