Competing for a national championship wasn’t in Carson Ferguson’s 2014 plans when the season began, but when a blown engine in his dirt late model couldn’t be replaced, the 14-year-old focused on his Legend entry.
By season’s end had earned four titles, including the Young Lions asphalt national championship.
“It was really kind of bittersweet to win it in the fashion that we did,” said Carson, who lives with his father in the Coulwood neighborhood when he’s racing but is an A-B honor roll student at Independence High School. “We weren’t the underdog, but we were fast everywhere we went. Everyone knew we were fast, but we just didn’t have the money to buy tires every week and be competitive every week.”
Carson opened the 2014 season by winning the Winter Heat championship at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A short time later he earned the Winter Nationals title at Auburndale (Fla.) Speedway.
By the time he claimed CMS’ Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series championship for the Young Lions division, he had solidified himself as a national title contender.
Driving for Ladyga Motorsports, Carson earned the national championship for the Legend Young Lions asphalt division by winning the INEX Legends Nationals event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring.
“It was pretty cool because that was the first time I had ever seen the track,” Carson said. “To win there, it just showed how strong our team was and how we could adapt to a track very quick.
“Ladyga Motorsports and Dennis Lambert cut tires are what allowed us to be competitive. They gave us an edge on everyone. They would work on the car week-in and week-out and make it the best car out there.”
Entering the Las Vegas event, Carson, New York’s Christian Eckes and Connecticut’s Michael Christopher Jr. were tied in points. To contend for a national title, a competitor must acquire 25 victories during the season.
For Carson, the achievement marked his second national championship. His first came in 2011 when he won the Bandolero Bandits national title.
“I don’t think those people thought we would win 25 races,” said Carson, who will celebrate his 15th birthday in March. “We weren’t really trying to win a national championship at the beginning of the year. After the Shootout, I think we had 16 wins, so we needed nine more. We decided we would go for it.
“At the end, I think we had to win five of the last seven races at Concord (Speedway). It was really hard to do it because Christian Eckes is one of the best ones at that track even though it’s not his home track. It definitely made it worth our while.”
After earning the Legend Young Lions asphalt national championship, Carson competed in the November dirt Legend car nationals at Rolling Thunder Speedway in Ararat, Va., for Concord-based Devo Motorsports. He won that national race, then followed it in December with a victory in the road course world finals at Virginia International Raceway in Alton for Ladyga Motorsports.
Carson is the first driver to win the asphalt, dirt and road course nationals in the Young Lions division in the same season. By the time 2014 concluded, the Mint Hill resident had won 30 of the 44 races in which he had competed.
For 2015, Carson will advance to the Legend Pro division. He will again compete in the Winter Nationals, which are scheduled for Orlando (Fla.) Speed World, and in CMS’ Summer Shootout Series.
However, he is bypassing CMS’ Winter Heat Series this year because the road course racing has been eliminated from it. He also has been working to acquire the $7,500 needed to replace the engine in his dirt late model. If the engine can be obtained, he plans to compete in the Fast Unified Engine Late Models Series.
Hickory begins 65th season
Hickory Motor Speedway opens its 65th season March 7 with the ZLOOP Spring Classic. Throughout the season, it will feature the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Bojangles’ Late Models at its weekly events as well as promote races for the limited late models, street stocks, super trucks, 4-cylinders, renegades and the sportsman racing classics.
Paramount KIA has renewed its sponsorship of the Big 10 Racing Challenge, which provides 10 races with 100-lap feature events that provide additional purse money and a points championship of its own.
The historic short track also will have several special events in 2015. The PASS Super Late Models will be there for the April 4 Easter Bunny 150 and the Nov. 21 Mason Dixon Meltdown. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns on Oct. 3, while the KOMA Unwind Southern Modifieds Series visits the track March 21and July 3.
The Knights of Destruction return July 25. Included in this special event are school bus, skid plate and chain races.
Ticket prices for the weekly NASCAR events are $11 for adults and $9 for seniors and teenagers. Children ages 12 and younger are admitted free. Ticket prices are different for the special events.