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CEDAR RAPIDS — A lot can happen — in a hurry — when two friends want to go racing bad enough.
When Cedar Rapids Late Model racer Griffin McGrath and Grimes native and 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Brett Moffitt were texting back and forth, making plans to attend this year’s IMCA Super Nationals at Boone Speedway, a half joke of an idea turned into something very real, very fast.
Moffitt is entered in this year’s “America’s Racing Vacation,” set to pilot a No. 64 IMCA Modified — a Rage Chassis owned by Darin Duffy. The Iowa native is more than a little excited to make his return to the dirt.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve been on dirt, so I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit nervous, but it’s fun hanging out with that group of guys, with Griffin and everybody, and I’m looking forward to going racing with them,” Moffitt said. “(McGrath) put this deal together and of course I said yes. It came about and I was really excited about it. I’m really looking forward to it.”
McGrath and Moffitt have been friends for several years, dating back to their days racing against each other in Super Late Models across the Midwest, and have fostered that friendship since — even to the point that Moffitt got a shower curtain with a photo of McGrath’s No. 64 Late Model on it as a gag gift, and it’s actually hanging up in his guest bathroom.
Their friendship is the entire basis of this deal, in which McGrath made the connection with Duffy for the car and is supplying the toterhome and race trailer to get the car to the track, and Moffitt is searching for sponsorship to fund the venture. Moffitt said there are a few partners on board already, with hope for more, and that the response and support from sponsors he’s gotten already has meant a great deal.
Moffitt’s parents live close to Boone anyway, so the current Charlotte resident was planning on coming back anyway. Getting to race with his friends is a bonus — especially during a year in which he’s had no full-time NASCAR ride and has been longing to be behind the wheel.
“For this, for me, it’s not only going to have fun with my friends, but it’s been a super stressful year not having a full-time ride,” Moffitt said. “Me and Griffin, we’re just racing friends. He knows I’ve raced dirt before, and he’s curious about racing dirt. The stars aligned here. We put our brains together and our money together and said, ‘Let’s go racing.’
“We love hanging out and going to races, so we figured, ‘What would be better than going to Super Nationals and racing it?’”
From McGrath’s perspective, he started making calls and it became very clear very quickly that it was serious.
McGrath has been an asphalt lifer, but serving as intermediary with Duffy and getting to be a part of the crew of a dirt Modified will serve as a test run of sorts. McGrath has long been a fan of dirt racing, and every year at Boone he has a host of people urging him to buy a dirt car and race himself. He reached out to Duffy because of Duffy’s strong ties with Rage Chassis, and McGrath said the chassis manufacturer was really his only choice because of “the way they do business, the way they carry themselves, and, quite frankly, their cars are super fast.”
The deal with Duffy to use his car was never going to involve McGrath behind the wheel — “Super Nationals isn’t exactly the ideal time for your first race on dirt,” McGrath said through laughter — but it could be the first of many times his hauler pulls into a dirt track.
“It’s going to be a fun deal; we’ll see how we do. At the end of the day, we don’t do anything we’re not ultracompetitive at. He’s a good friend and a really good racecar driver,” McGrath said. “We’ve joked about dirt racing for three years now. This deal makes for a cool introduction to what it’s like to have a dirt car entered and to be more involved.
“We’re trying to see what it’s like to be a competitor and what relationships we can make to see what it’s all about. At some point my desire would be to try the dirt stuff at the Modified level.”
As for Duffy, the call from McGrath was unexpected, but he didn’t really hesitate when McGrath brought up the idea. Duffy wasn’t planning on racing Super Nationals this year anyway, and even though he didn’t know much about Moffitt as a dirt driver, his friendship with McGrath and trust in his judgment was enough.
“I thought it would be a good deal for all of us,” Duffy said. “(Moffitt) has some experience and he was a fairly accomplished dirt racer in the day. I’ve seen NASCAR guys get in dirt cars and sometimes it doesn’t turn out good for them. But I know with him having experience, he’ll be fine.
“If he’s a good friend of Griffin’s, he’s got to be a great guy. I’m looking forward to building that relationship.”
Make no mistake, Moffitt, McGrath, Duffy and Co. aren’t doing this as a lark. They’re going to win — and if they do, there’s a sizable party that’s likely to take place. Moffitt doesn’t know exactly what the rest of this year involves on the NASCAR side, so having this on the schedule with that in mind just adds another layer.
Moffitt gets to race again, McGrath gets to learn the dirt world from the pits and everyone gets to enjoy Super Nationals.
“Every chance I get to drive a racecar, I look forward to right now, because the opportunities are kind of few and far between,” Moffitt said. “This is a good way to go and have fun and go racing back in the grass roots. The Modified level racing is 100 times more fun than NASCAR racing. It becomes so stressful at the top levels that this is just going to be a lot of fun.”
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