Hoffman returns, Dotson back in Longhorn house car, Winger and Zeigler represent Super Late Model invaders
Every November, the Reutimann family and its historic motorsports legacy are honored in one of the most prestigious DIRTcar UMP Modified events of the year. The 10th edition of the Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial writes another chapter this Friday-Saturday, Nov. 17-18, at Volusia Speedway Park.
A $10,000 grand prize and the signature toy tractor trophy awaits the winner of the 50-lap main event Saturday night – held in memory of Emil Reutimann Jr, Dale Reutimann and family friend Gordon Stone, who were victims of a drunk driving crash while traveling to a race in September 1973.
With the recent cancelation of Thursday’s practice session, the UMP Modified program will now begin Friday, Nov. 17, with Hot Lap/Qualifying and $500-to-win Showdown Features alongside a complete show for local 602 Late Models, Street Stocks and Thunder Stocks. UMP Modified redraw, Last Chance Showdowns and the 50-lap Feature are on-tap for Saturday, while DIRTcar Pro (604) Late Models and 3/4-Modifieds support the show.
Here are the drivers to watch and storylines to follow this weekend:
GUESS WHO’S BACK – For the first time in over a year, 2021 Reutimann Memorial winner Nick Hoffman will return to the seat of a UMP Modified this weekend in pursuit of the $10,000 grand prize and his second career tractor trophy.
Hoffman, the three-time DIRTcar national points champion from Mooresville, NC, is set to pilot the Federated Auto Parts, Elite Chassis #7 – owned by longtime customer and NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Justin Allgaier. Hoffman has made several starts in Allgaier’s Modified in the past, piloting the car for an entire summer en route to the 2020 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship in which he won 12 of the 27 contested races.
Since 2016, no other driver has shined in Volusia’s biggest UMP Modified events like Hoffman. Twenty-three career DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins and an unprecedented seven-straight Big Gator points championships in the event have set him far apart from his competition at the half-mile oval – several of which he’ll race against this weekend.
KING AND HIS CROWN – One year ago, Ethan Dotson made his first trip to Volusia to compete in the Reutimann Memorial and left with the big check and tractor trophy. He and the Longhorn Chassis house team are set for a return to VSP this weekend in defense of their crown.
Dotson, the 24-year-old Dirt Modified standout from Bakersfield, CA, dominated last year’s event, taking the lead five laps into the main event and leading the rest of the way unchallenged. His prowess at the half mile continued into 2023 as well, winning three of the five Features he contested at DIRTcar Nationals in February.
For most of the 2023 regular season, Dotson has been cutting his teeth in the Super Late Model ranks, piloting cars for Chris Bragg Racing and Coltman Farms Racing. However, he has made intermittent appearances in a UMP Modified this year, winning a total of seven DIRTcar-sanctioned Features, including the marquee Plowboy Nationals at Spoon River Speedway in September.
HOME GAME – A host of weekly Volusia racers are set to defend home turf against an army of invaders this weekend, including newly crowned UMP Modified track champion Dalton Lanich and the Reutimann family legend himself, Buzzie Reutimann.
Lanich, 33, of Bunnell, FL, won two of the four UMP Modified races contested during the regular season and clinched the track points title for the first time in his career. He transferred into the Reutimann main event last year by way of a third-place finish in his Showdown Feature on Friday, and started 10th on Saturday’s Feature grid, but retired before the first lap was complete after being involved in a multi-car incident on the first lap.
Reutimann, the 82-year-old motorsports legend from Zephyrhills, FL, won the first Last Chance Showdown before driving from 21st on the starting grid up to finish 12th in last year’s main event. He previously clinched the 2022 Volusia track championship by way of one Feature win last year.
JUST WING IT – Ashton Winger, of Senoia, GA, made his UMP Modified debut in last year’s Reutimann Memorial and impressed, starting on the outside pole and holding strong up front to finish second in the Mathews Motorsports #33.
The 23-year-old Super Late Model regular is slated to be back in the seat of a UMP Modified for Florida team owner Jeff Mathews this weekend, alongside Mathews himself. Mathews is a past winner of the Reutimann Memorial, taking the checkered flag in 2017 when the race was held at Bubba Motorsports Park in Ocala, FL.
Since teaming up with Mathews at the end of the 2022 season, Winger has been strong in the team’s flagship Super Late Model, capturing the 2023 DIRTcar Summer Nationals championship with six Feature wins in addition to multiple Crate-engine Late Model wins and his first national Super Late Model win at East Bay Raceway Park in February.
SUPER INVADERS – The trend of Super Late Model talent invading the Modified ranks continues with Mason Zeigler making his Volusia UMP Modified debut this weekend in the Elite Chassis #5z for car owner Glenn Elliott.
Zeigler, of Chalk Hill, PA, was a regular of the national Super Late Model circuit for several years but has since scaled back to favor a more regional schedule over the past few seasons. He recently joined forces with Elliot, his car owner, to pursue a small handful of UMP Modified races this fall for a bit of fun and testing.
In his first race out for Elliott, and only his second career start in a UMP Modified, Zeigler took the checkered flag in one of Pennsylvania’s newest marquee Modified races – the DJ Troutman Memorial at Bedford Speedway – besting a large field loaded with talent to bag the $4,000 grand prize. Most recently, Zeigler impressed in the World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte three weeks ago, running second in the main event before tangling with a lapped car.
• 2014 – Austin Sanders
• 2015 – David Reutimann
• 2016 – David Reutimann
• 2017 – Jeff Mathews
• 2018 – Kyle Strickler
• 2019 – David Stremme
• 2020 – Tyler Nicely
• 2021 – Nick Hoffman
• 2022 – Ethan Dotson