Deuser climbing racing ladder
They arrived late, with a Tupperware container full of parts and tools, a mini-cup car and an 11-year-old ready to drive it.
While those infant stages of the program had a few bumps, Deuser Motorsports was born.
Hands-on racing knowledge was limited then, but Chris Deuser’s constant talks of buying a race car became reality. That first race in 2009, Chris’ son Corey got behind the wheel for the first time to turn laps, having never even tested the 1/4-scale stock car. Even though they missed qualifying and heat races, they were allowed to run in the feature.
Corey didn’t do too bad either, placing 10th.
The competitive racing bug had bitten the Deuser family.
Today, the team has grown, going from father-son trying to figure out the nuances of a race car to a staff that includes a veteran crew chief in Jim Robinson and three additional members. They work on a Ford Fusion late model with the goal of winning rookie of the year in the Jegs/Championship Racing Association’s All-Stars Tour.
‘It’s an addiction,’ said Deuser Motorsports owner Chris Deuser. ‘Once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to get out.’
Long gone are the days of the mini-cups, a series in which Deuser had a lot of success, winning a championship in 2011 along with multiple races along the way.
At 15 years old, Corey has grown from the 13-horsepower mini-cups to 425 horses under the hood of his slick red, black and silver No. 14 late model.
‘It’s gone quick, but the steps they put me through while doing it really helped,’ Corey said. ‘There wasn’t a real big leap. The mini-cup really taught me how to race. Then, racing baby grands introduced me to more lifting, braking and shifting. Now, the late model brings it all together.’
Focus for the team is competing for the points championship along with rookie of the year honors in the Jegs/CRA All-Star Tour series.
It has been a busy season thus far. The first five races are already in the books of the 14 scheduled events that take competitors from Tennessee to Michigan to Ohio to Missouri to Indiana.
‘The last four weekends have been busy,’ Corey said Thursday before racing at Salem Speedway on Saturday. ‘After the Salem race, we’ll have four weeks off before going back to Anderson. We’re focused on winning the Rookie of the Year.’
At Salem, Corey was third fastest in qualifying, turning a lap of 17.314 seconds at a blistering 115.4 miles per hour on the high-banked pavement. In the race, overheating caused Deuser to pull off the track after 68 laps, placing 15th. Corey made his way to second place before the engine issues on the 0.555-mile track, the closest the series comes to his hometown of Lanesville.
In the series that can draw up to 30 entries at each track, Deuser already has a pair of top 10 finishes. On June 14, Deuser put in his best effort that surprised a lot of people.
Traveling north to Berlin Raceway in Michigan, Deuser was told rookies couldn’t tame the tricky 7/16-mile paved oval. He proved doubters wrong. He qualified fourth then finished fifth to launch the 15-year-old to the top of the rookie standings.
‘Our crew chief had us scared about going to Berlin,’ Chris said. ‘He said it’s the worst track you’ll ever go to as a rookie and every guy he came up there with didn’t run good. It’s a place that only allowed certain practice times, nothing extra or open. It was our best finish of the year.’
‘The crew chief said it wasn’t so bad after I finished fifth,’ Corey joked.
The move to the serious late model series prompted Deuser Motorsports to hire a team. John Nolan serves as the car chief, primarily taking good care of the vehicle on race day along with changing the oil and other attention the ride needs. Robinson is a veteran crew chief with a lineage of racing in his family. His father, brother, son and nephew have gripped the wheel of race cars.
‘Jim does the spotting at the track and talks in detail with Corey on race and qualifying set-ups,’ Chris said.
‘Brett Robinson is in charge of tires, which is a big part of the team,’ Corey said. ‘Tires are what wins a race. You can’t wear them all the way out.’
The Deusers said the camaraderie on the team is leading to the success on the track.
‘They all do their job really good and care about the driver,’ Chris said. ‘You have to be dedicated to do this. There is a lot of family time given up, and we travel a lot.’
Competition on the track in the Jegs/CRA All-Stars Tour series is strong as well. Legendary NASCAR champion Bill Elliot’s son, Chase Elliot, has won a race this year. A familiar name in local racing ‘ Chuck Barnes Jr. ‘ fielded a car at Salem. The winner of the Salem race was Cody Coughlin, aided by former Dale Earnhardt Sr. crew chief Kevin Hamlin.
Corey, a Floyd Central student, isn’t the youngest in the series; a 12-year-old competes as well.
‘There is a lot of big money around us that shows up in semis, running the best of the best,’ Chris said.
That doesn’t intimidate Corey.
‘Our operation, I like it a lot,’ he said. ‘We have a great car and a great crew. My favorite is when someone shows up with an open trailer then goes out there and whoops everybody. It shows it doesn’t matter what you show up in; it’s what you’re driving and how you drive it.’
It is the second year in a late model division for the Deusers. Last year, the season saw the team go from track to track in the Midwest and South. Less than two months into racing late models, Sept. 9, 2012, was a date they’ll never forget.
At the age of 14, Corey became the youngest to win a late model feature at I-44 Speedway in Missouri.
‘When we won the late model race, it was pretty cool,’ Corey said. ‘Even though I led the whole race, when I crossed the checkered flag, I was just in shock. It seemed so early, I couldn’t believe it.’
With the jump to the Jegs/CRA All-Stars Tour, Corey and the crew have gone from setting up a car for heat races and a 30-lap feature to 100-lap events on the current tour.
‘Everything you do in one day is completely different,’ Corey said. ‘We work on a race set up to do our best to get the car dialed in. Then, in qualifying, you go out there and race as hard as you can for two laps. For the race, you have to ride for the longest time then just let it go late and race hard to the end.’
The maturity of Corey’s race strategy is evident through his approach, but the dream of racing started on the family’s vacations and couch.
‘We traveled to some NASCAR races and other tracks, but we were always watching racing,’ Chris said as their living room TV was set to Speed Channel. ‘I always wanted to race, so I let him do it.’
‘I always liked racing,’ Corey said. ‘I watched as long as I can remember. We talked about racing ourselves for a few years and never found it safe enough. We wanted a full body roll cage car, and we found it in the mini-cup.’
Showing up at Sportsdrome Speedway with the Tupperware of parts is a memory the family will treasure, because now they travel with a trailer and a tool box that dwarfs the plastic container.
‘When I started, I didn’t know anything,’ Corey admitted. ‘They wanted to know what the car feels like when I’m driving, and I didn’t know. Now I’ve learned to break down the car with my team, which helps a lot.’
The Deusers still spend time in the shop, but are more hands-off than when they fielded a mini-cup and baby grand car. Questions, however, are constantly asked of the crew to help Corey better understand the late model.
Corey said racing, which he hopes to make a career of, is much different than involvements of his classmates at Floyd Central.
‘People from school see it as something different,’ he said. ‘It’s easy to try out for baseball or football because there are school programs for that. When you say, ‘I race cars,’ it’s different at my age. But, when asked about it, I will tell (classmates) how the season is going.’
Fine tuning his racing skills takes place at home when not on the track through an iRacing simulator.
Recognition also has come to Corey recently; he was named the MyLucasOil.com Athlete of the Week.
The marketing side of the race team is something the Deusers enjoy as well. The inside of the No. 14 has several go-pro mounts for cameras that Corey will edit and put on Youtube.com for fans to see. Website www.coreydeuser.com also keeps fans up to date.
‘I get people on Twitter and Facebook send me messages saying they are fans of mine,’ Corey said. ‘I can see it growing already this year. It’s fun having people that root me on.’
The cheering will continue. The Deusers picked up sponsorships along with the family business Deuser Electric. Among those on board are Focus Eyewear, Big ‘O’ Tires, Clayton Homes, ARC Construction, Racer-boost.com and Lucas Oil.
‘We’re always looking for new sponsors,’ Chris said.
As the Jegs/CRA All-Stars Tour is a quarter of the way completed, the team plans to take a year-by-year approach to Corey’s future. They’ve already purchased an ARCA car and plan to test it toward the end of the racing season. A race this year in an ARCA car is possible as well.
‘We’re going to go year by year,’ Corey said. ‘When we were racing baby grands, we started talking about the late models. Then this year, we’re racing late models and talking about ARCA.’
The next race for Corey will be July 19 at Anderson Speedway north of Indianapolis.
Starting young is the way to go forward in the racing business. Bringing home the Rookie of the Year, and seeking wins in the current series could lift Corey even further.
July 19 Anderson Speedway
July 26 Lucas Oil Raceway (Clermont)
Aug. 10 Auto City Speedway (Clio, Mich.)
Sept. 1 Winchester Speedway
Sept. 7 Owosso Speedway (Ovid, Mich.)
Sept. 14 Springport (Mich.) Motor Speedway
Sept. 21-22 Lucas Oil Raceway (Clermont)
Oct. 11 Winchester Speedway
Oct. 25-26 Memphis (Tenn.) International Raceway
All races 100 laps except at Memphis International Raceway (125 laps).