WHEATLAND, Mo. — When the Lucas Oil Speedway season gets under way on April 3, late model driver Jason Sivils will be looking for redemption.
Sivils’ 2020 season effectively ended on the opening lap of the ULMA late model season opener in May, when a brutal rollover destroyed his car and left him with lingering concussion symptoms for several weeks.
A few weeks later, Sivils tried to make a few laps until his engine expired and his driving season was over.
He spent the rest of year as crew chief for series title contender Johnny Fennewald, who won six races and barely missed grabbing his fourth straight track championship.
After an offseason spent rebuilding his wrecked race car, Sivils is ready to give Fennewald and the other late model competitors a run for their money.
“Chris Davis and Dwight Brown encouraged me to rebuild the old car,” Sivils said. “It’ll be ready for the start of the season. The joke at the shop is make it all the way to the backstretch and maybe by 2022, we can make it a full lap.”
Sivils, 36, has been racing for 20 years after an introduction to the sport as a five-year-old. His father, Steve Sivils and uncle, Noel Russell, competed in the Volkswagen Bug class at the time. Sivils and his father still bond over racing as a father-son activity.
Upon graduation from Missouri S&T with an engineering degree, Sivils got his first late model which remain his favorite to race.
Sivils said the engineering degree has led him to do a variety of professional projects, including heavy bridge construction, wastewater treatment plans, roads, sidewalks and trails. His technical expertise has made for a successful partnership with Chad Wehr of Wehr’s Machine and Racing Products.
Fellow racers often ask for technical assistance, and Sivils is always quick to offer help.
“I’ve helped cars that have won points titles,” Sivils said. “I’ve never focused on points, I’ve focused on having fun. We’re gonna spend this year focused primarily on having fun, but we are going to run Lucas for points to see if we can finish in top 10.”
The Lucas Oil Speedway season includes 14 events, from opening night through the Aug. 28 crowning of multiple division champions.
Competing classes include Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds, Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars.