Steve Arpin

CHASSIS WARS: Top DIRTcar UMP Modified Chassis Builders Ready for Battle at Volusia

Drivers hit Volusia Speedway Park for seven-straight nights, Feb. 2-8, in 50th DIRTcar Nationals

Volusia Speedway Park will be the latest battleground of a chassis war among the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds during the 50th DIRTcar Nationals.

Elite Chassis and Lethal Chassis have been among the most successful brands in recent UMP Modified history — accounting for 48 percent of all Feature wins recorded by the top-10 drivers in 2020 national points. But in 2021, a new challenger will look to end their reign.

October 2020 brought forth the formation of Longhorn Modifieds by Loenbro Motorsports into the DIRTcar realm, featuring the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Steve Arpin and Longhorn Chassis proprietor Justin Labonte joining forces to start the production of Loenbro-unique chassis from within their shop in China Grove, NC. The brand immediately recruited several big-name drivers to their lineup, including a few of Elite’s biggest names.

Strickler (middle) in Victory Lane at The Dirt Track at Charlotte at the 2020 Drydene World Short Track Championship with runner-up Chris Arnold (right) and third-place Nick Hoffman (left) [Michael Boggs Photo]
Longhorn by Loenbro made its first on-track appearance in the Drydene World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with 8-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Kyle Strickler at the controls. A $4,000 Feature win Saturday night verified the brand’s projected competitiveness and gave a glimpse into the future of the battle forming between Elite and Longhorn.

Two-time and defending Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series champion Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took the checkered flag in last November’s Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial at Volusia, besting Elite Chassis owner/fabricator Nick Hoffman and NASCAR regular Justin Allgaier in a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win throwdown. Hoffman and Allgaier drove their Elite Chassis to a 2-3 finish Saturday’s night main event, but could not catch Nicely, a former Elite pilot, making his debut in a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro.

Their next heavyweight bout went down the very next weekend at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN, where Nicely took his Loenbro Longhorn to Victory Lane on Friday night with Allgaier and Hoffman again finishing 2-3. But Saturday night was Hoffman’s turn to get one for Elite, besting Nicely over 25 laps to keep the friendly rivalry going.

While their competitiveness was on full display in the fall of last season, the Loenbro Longhorns will face some decorated Elite and Lethal drivers at Volusia come February.

Hoffman posing with his 2020 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship trophy (Josh James Photo)

Hoffman, the two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, has left Volusia in each of the last five DIRTcar Nationals with the Big Gator trophy and a total of 16 Feature wins in the event since his first in 2012. His triumph in 2020 kicked off one of the most dominant seasons in Elite’s history, featuring four of the top 10 drivers in DIRTcar UMP Modified national points standings at season’s end driving Elite Chassis – himself, Mike McKinney, Will Krup and Hunt Gossum. All four combined for 61 total Feature victories in DIRTcar-sanctioned competition.

Former NASCAR veteran David Stremme founded Lethal Chassis in 2014, serving several big names in the UMP Modified community that always bring tough competition into the state of Florida.

Stremme himself has two career DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins. Spencer Hughes pulled off a thrilling victory in last year’s Gator Championship on Monday night, passing Jason Hughes (no relation) on the final lap to bag the $5,000 prize. NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Haley scored his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in 2019, as did Michigan’s Curt Spalding last year. Floridian Modified veteran Devin Dixon and North Carolina’s Austin Holcombe are also projected to join Lethal’s roster at Volusia in 2021.

The 50th DIRTcar Nationals will feature a stacked lineup from Elite, including the regulars Hoffman, Allgaier and Krup. Kenny Wallace, who switched to Elite last fall, makes his first Elite starts at Volusia this year. Garret Stewart, Volusia’s winningest driver in 2020, and Kyle Hammer, the Illinoisan making his first trip south for Florida Speedweeks this year, also bring Elites for 2021.

Stremme in his Lethal Chassis at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Melanie Cherry Photo, 2020)

Longhorn by Loenbro will also bring a stellar lineup to Volusia in February, including Nicely and Strickler. Arpin will make his return to the seat of a UMP Modified for the first time since 2008, alongside Floridian Modified veteran Jeff Mathews. Plainfield, IL-wheelman Mike McKinney will also be making his very first trip south to compete at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals behind the wheel of a Longhorn after spending all eight of his first UMP Modified seasons with Elite, finishing second only to Hoffman in 2020 national points.

The rosters for each side are set. Every driver knows the score. When the teams pull into Volusia to compete for seven-straight nights, the gloves will come off in search of dirt racing’s most prized trophies. There’s no telling what kind of history will be made in the 50th edition of DIRTcar Nationals when the ironmen hit the track.

Don’t miss the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds in action at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-8. Tickets are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX. If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live from the comfort of your home with a Platinum Fast Pass subscription to DIRTVision!

THE BIG 5-O: Ironmen UMP Modified Drivers Take on 50th DIRTcar Nationals Feb. 2-8, 2021

New stars Hoffman, Nicely set to battle with veterans Wallace, Stremme and others

Jan. 6, 2021 – The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds have long been known as the “Ironmen” of the DIRTcar Nationals.

For the past several years of the iconic Florida event, they’ve competed the first seven nights alongside the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.

When the stout field rolls into Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 2-8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, one hand will point to the division’s future stars while the other reaches back on the history books. Some of the division’s most exciting points chases and storylines have been produced over the past 15 years, featuring a slew of instantly recognizable names.

Rick Young Photo (2007)

The 2007 DIRTcar Nationals was headlined with the success of one young Canadian, who ushered in a new level of dominance not previously seen in DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified history. Twenty-three-year-old Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, brought his Larry Shaw Race Cars #00 into the facility and made his mark on history, winning an incredible five consecutive Features in seven nights to earn his first DIRTcar Nationals championship. It seemed as though Arpin would hold this record forever, until one man sparked a legacy of his own the following year.

When Arpin was seriously injured at Volusia in February 2008, the door swung open for another driver to step up to the plate. Jared Landers, of Batesville, AR, won two Features that year, setting him up for a memorable run in 2009 where he won five non-consecutive Features over seven nights of racing, tying Arpin’s record and crowning him DIRTcar Nationals champion for the first time in his career.

The next four years didn’t see quite the level of dominance brought on by Arpin and Landers but was made up for with a diverse group of Feature winners and champions.

Present-day Late Model veteran Dave Hess Jr., of Waterford, PA, won two Features en route to his Golden Eagle trophy in 2010, one year before Emporia, KS’s own Clint Bowyer led the charge of NASCAR-driven success at the event.

Bowyer won three Features on his way to a Golden Eagle in 2011, paving the way for fellow Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty and Austin Dillon’s three newly styled Big Gator championship trophies, collected from 2012-2015. The brothers won a combined 12 DIRTcar Nationals Features over that period, missing out on only the 2013 points championship to another NASCAR legend, Kenny Schrader.

While Austin hoisted his first Big Gator in 2015 with Ty finishing just 10 points behind in third, one driver stood between them in the points that year.

Belleville, IL-born Nick Hoffman, now residing in Mooresville, NC, has since been the one man to beat when it comes to the UMP Modifieds at the DIRTcar Nationals. He and his blue/orange Elite Chassis #2 have been tearing up Volusia in February for the past five years, winning 13 Features and five consecutive Big Gator trophies from 2016-2020.

Hoffman (2) and David Stremme (35) racing for position in the 2020 DIRTcar Nationals (Rick Neff Photo)

Armed with his second consecutive DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship and DIRTcar UMP Modified national championship honors that 2020 brought him, 2021 is looking brighter than ever for the reigning Big Gator champion to repeat at Volusia.

Of course, several big-name contenders in the division will be gunning for their right to hoist the Big Gator trophy as well, including former NASCAR stars David Stremme, Kenny Wallace and 2020 Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely.

Tickets for the 50th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-13, are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune into DIRTVision to watch all the action live from the comfort of your home!

Previous UMP Modified Feature Winners
February 10, 2020 – Spencer Hughes
February 9, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 8, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 7, 2020 – Curt Spalding, Jason Beaulieu, Christian Thomas, David Reutimann
February 6, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 5, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 4, 2020 – Michael Long
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 —Lucas Lee
February 8th, 2019 — R.C. Whitwell, Justin Haley, Gordy Gundaker, Brandon Green, Jesse Rupe
February 7th, 2019 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2019 — Taylor Cook
February 5th, 2019 — Michael Long
February 11th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2018 — Tyler Nicely
February 9th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler, Tyler Nicely, Frank Paladino, Larry Mott
February 8th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 7th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2018 — David Stremme
February 21st, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins, Jonathan Taylor, J.E. Stalder
February 20th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Will Krup
February 17th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2017 — Brian Ruhlman
February 15th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins
February 16th, 2016 — Derrick Ramey, Justin Allgaier, Ray Bollinger
February 15th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2016 — Brian Ruhlman
February 13th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2016 — Trent Young
February 11th, 2016 — Tyler Nicely
February 10th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 9th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2015 — Nick Hoffman
February 13th, 2015 — Ty Dillon
February 12th, 2015 — David Stremme
February 11th, 2015 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Joel Ortberg
February 17th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2014 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 14th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2014 — Kyle Bronson
February 11th, 2014 — Kyle Strickler
February 19th, 2013 — Ty Dillon
February 19th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 19th, 2013 — Jason Zimmer
February 18th, 2013 — Ken Schrader
February 17th, 2013 — Matt Westfall
February 16th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 15th, 2013 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2013 — Rodney Sanders
February 21st, 2012 — Austin Dillon
February 21st, 2012 — Mike Wedelstadt
February 21st, 2012 — Tyler Carpenter
February 20th, 2012 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 18th, 2012 — Chad Kinder
February 17th, 2012 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 15th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 14th, 2012 — Dale Mathison
February 15th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 15th, 2011 — Kenny Schrader
February 15th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 12th, 2011 — Richie Tosh
February 11th, 2011 — Ryan Gustin
February 10th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 9th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 8th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 8th, 2010 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2010 — Austin Dillon
February 6th, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 4th, 2010 — David McWilliams
February 3rd, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 10th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 9th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 8th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2009 — Randy Hall
February 6th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 5th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 4th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 3rd, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 11th, 2008 — Dave Groves
February 10th, 2008 — Tim Hancock
February 9th, 2008 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 8th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 6th, 2008 — Scott Drake
February 5th, 2008 — Jesse Stovall
February 12th, 2007 — Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 10th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 9th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 8th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 7th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 6th, 2007 — Kenny Wallace
February 12th, 2006 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 9th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 8th, 2006 – Chad Ohnsted
February 7th, 2006 – Craig Thatcher
February 6th, 2006 – Blake Jetvig
February 14th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 13th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 12th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 9th, 2005 – Steve Arpin