MIDWEST: Roller Coaster Season Ending With Promising Turn for Josh Dietz — Part 2

Jacob Seelman Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Midwest, Other Dirt Late Models, US Legends/INEX 0 Comments

This is part two of Race Chaser Online’s feature interview with U.S. Legends Car competitor Josh Dietz. In part one, we detailed his season-to-date and his quest to chase the Semi-Pro division national championship, derailed by a late-season engine failure. Now, we delve into the present — and the future — for the Kentucky-born and Midwest-raised racer.

ELSMERE, Ky. — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Dietz Racing photo —

Josh Dietz had aspirations of racing and winning on pavement during the 2015 racing season.

He did both of those things, propelling himself into the top 50 in national U.S. Legends Car points in the Semi-Pro division and carrying the banner for a family-owned and operated team that kept pushing along and succeeding in spite of adversity.

However, the adversity finally got a little too steep to overcome.

Dietz blew a motor on Labor Day weekend at Spartan Speedway, in an attempt at “redemption” after driving a wrecked race car from the back to finish second.

“That race was a mess,” Dietz said. “We should have won the one earlier in the season but circumstances just didn’t leave me enough time to get all the way back to the front. As far as the Labor Day race goes, we made the decision to drive up there a little late, so we missed practice, qualifying and the heat race and had to start on the tail of the feature. That spurred me on — by lap four I was up to third and I knew I had speed.”

“Unfortunately, by about lap eight the motor was gone. She just blew up.”

As Dietz and his team went searching for a solution — anything to get back on the track in some capacity — the Kentucky driver hooked up with Shawn Snelling and New Era Motorsports, and ended up diving into a whole new realm in his racing career.

Dirt — in a crate late model, to boot.

“The way it happened was just one of those perfect scenarios that worked out for everyone,” Dietz explained. “I was available and Shawn had some connections to a seat that I ended up being able to get in. I never expected it though, and I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting in a dirt car at this stage of my career. I’ve always wanted to dig into it though, because that’s where my roots are going back to when I was a little kid. I was really excited about it.”

For all his excitement, though, Dietz did not get the auspicious debut he was hoping for. After hauling the car down to Florence (Ky.) Speedway on Sept. 26 for a Saturday night show, driveshaft issues on his first trip around in both hot laps and the heat race derailed his night before it ever truly began.

“We never got to make a complete lap under green (laughs),” Dietz said with a shake of his head. “The universal on the driveshaft broke on the first lap of practice and then on the green for the heat race, the driveshaft just flat exploded. I have no idea what its problem with us was that night but it wasn’t about to let us get anything done.”

“The weekend didn’t turn out the way we planned, but I still owe a thank you to everyone who got me there. Shawn did a wail of a job in getting the car setup for me and Tom Collini worked all night for multiple nights to get the car ready. Those two were huge and I hope I get to keep working with them.”

Dietz’s only prior dirt experience prior to that outing was a single Legends car start at Moler Raceway Park, exactly one year to the day ahead of his run at Florence. He charged from the back of the field and had taken the lead on the first lap of a green-white-checkered finish when the second place machine got loose entering turn one, got into Dietz and spun them both out.

Nelson Stewart, father of three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, was the eventual winner, but Dietz circles that race — where he was leading with Stewart in third on the final restart — as key for his confidence on the slick stuff.

“I’m still really proud of that night. Even though we didn’t get the trophy in the end, that was the night that made me believe in what I’m capable of in all types of situations — racing against some of the best of the best.”

Now, Dietz hopes to use that confidence to build on for the future. Even though he doesn’t have any concrete plans for the remainder of 2015, the young gun is working on putting together a full season on the dirt for 2016.

“That’s my plan for now, at least,” Dietz expressed. “Obviously there’s some things that have to be put into place to make all this happen but I enjoyed working with everyone at New Era Motorsports, with Shawn and his guys, and I’m looking forward to being able to continue working with Shawn and learning from him as I try to get a full season program together for next year.”

And as for the Asphalt Nationals, Dietz’s original goal entering the season? He hasn’t given up on one more shot at glory on the pavement, but says it will take the right situation to make it happen.

“I really would like to head to Nationals and get a crack at Anderson next month,” Dietz added. “I think I would have a great chance at it if we could get a good, strong motor underneath me. That’s just going to take getting hooked up with the right people though. Our car’s fast, but the block is in no position to take racing or get fixed at this point, only a month out. So we’ll see.”

“Nationals owes me one though. Fourth at Lake Erie [in 2013] was great, but it stings still. I want a couple spots better before I look ahead to the dirt.”

And at least right now? That dirt road looks very promising indeed.

For more information on Josh Dietz, follow his team on Facebook, or contact Dietz Racing at (859) 380-0099.

To re-read part one of this Race Chaser Online feature story, click here.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Results, courtesy of INEX, from the 2013 U.S. Legends Asphalt Nationals were re-checked and corrected accordingly.


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: speed77radio@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

Follow Race Chaser Online: @RaceChaserNews

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