GRAND RAIDS — Charlie Castle battled for two seasons with his Midwest Modified race car before finally figuring out what the issue was.
The 49-year-old driver from Grand Rapids said the car was new in 2018 before he unknowingly bent the front stub of the car at the Ogilvie Raceway.
“We fought with that car for two years, said Castle, who just won the Midwest Modifieds track championship at the Grand Rapids Speedway. “Whatever we did to it, it was always the same.’’
In an effort to find out what was wrong, Castle let Skeeter Estey drive it for three weeks last year. “He knew for sure something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure what it was.’’
The car was ultimately repaired and Castle found success pretty much immediately. En route to the championship, his worst finish was a fourth place, except for one week.
“Top 5 every night. It was a very good season for us.’’
While 2020 was a memorable season, he said, “it’s been a few years since I won a track championship. It’s been a long time.’’
Castle, who has been racing for about 30 years, has been working hard on his Midwest Modified heading into this weekend’s Labor Day Shootout at the Hibbing Raceway.
“I worked on the car a lot actually’’ since ripping “the drive shaft right off it’’ on Aug. 27. That meant he and his cousin Kevin Castle spent last weekend putting it back together.
How will the car respond Friday in Grand Rapids and at the Labor Day Shootout Saturday and Sunday?
“We’ll see. I’m looking forward to it. I really am,’’ Castle said.
Cousins Kevin and Kelly Castle do all the chassis work on Castle’s car and they have put in a new setup for the “dry’’ at the Hibbing Raceway. “The track dries out because there are so many cars (30-40 Midwest Mods alone).’’ That leads to a slick track, Castle said, which can be “like driving on ice.’’
Will the new setup work for the Shootout?
“We’ll see what happens. You don’t even know what the track’s going to be like until you get there.’’
The Grand Rapids driver has been racing for much of his life, including six or seven years in the Modified class, nine to 10 years in the Mod 4s and several years in Mini Stocks.
Castle followed in his dad’s footsteps, while his brother Ed raced and his son Charlie Castle III now competes in the same class.
“It’s been kind of a family thing.’’
While some family members race, others — like his three grandchildren and daughter — all go to the races to watch. “That’s why I do it,’’ he said.
Castle is looking forward to going up against the best racers in Grand Rapids and Hibbing in the next few days.
The Labor Day Shootout has been the only big show that he’s won over the years, even though he’s won a few track championships. His Shootout win came around 2013.
“That was the coolest thing,’’ according to Castle. “I won it once. I actually won the Labor Day shootout’’ with a “clean sweep’’ in both the heat and feature races.
Winning the event is quite an accomplishment for any driver.
“Even if you can make the show, it’s a big deal. There is so much luck involved. All the cars are fast nowadays. Every single car is hard to pass.’’
That makes it even harder to win.
“I know lots of people (who race) for years and years and have never won.’’