CONCORD, N.C. – Demetrios Drellos will embark on his first full season of competition with the Super DIRTcar Series next year.
Outside of his seat time in Soap Box Derby cars, Drellos has eight years of competitive dirt racing experience going into the upcoming season. He started out racing Slingshots in Pennsylvania and southern New York.
“We came in with little to no racing experience,” said Drellos. “It really is a tough little division. The guys that run them and race those tracks all the time, like Shellhammer’s Speedway and Linda’s Speedway, those tracks are really competitive. It’s not a division you hear a lot about but it is a tough class get the hang of, and it produces a lot of good racers.”
In 2015, Drellos took a huge step from Slingshots into DIRTcar 358 Modifieds at New York’s Lebanon Valley Speedway. The Billy-the-Kid-powered No. 111 held off a charging Kenny Tremont to win in just his fourth start at the legendary speedway. He also finished 15th in the final 358 Modified event at the New York State Fairgrounds that season.
“We skipped the Sportsman Modified and went straight to 358s,” Drellos said. “We went to Lebanon Valley Speedway because we have some friends down there. It’s an hour away from me, but my team is down there and they had experience at the track. It helped that at that track, once you get racing everyone spreads out, so I could focus on just racing the car instead of being door-to-door with someone else every lap.”
When 2016 came around, Drellos added Albany-Saratoga Speedway to his weekly schedule of racing, competing in the DIRTcar 358 Modified division in addition to a handful of starts with the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series. The 2017 season saw the No. 111 circulate around the same two tracks on a weekly basis, and Drellos was able to secure three more wins.
“It has been an advantage running at Albany-Saratoga Speedway against those top guys,” said Drellos. “It’s helped us a lot. You’re never going to go there and not be against the best guys in the business. It’s a tough track to get the hang of. Last year we took the Big-Block to the big shows and ran the 358 Modified every week. Our season didn’t go as well as it could have. We did get some top 10s there, but things never really clicked with what we were trying to do. We did get a win there in 2017 in the big-block.”
Drellos and his Queensbury racing operation finished off 2018 in dynamic fashion. At NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLVII, an unfortunate mechanical failure ended his Billy Whittaker Cars 200 early and he was scored 39th. But that was not without making some serious noise.
“We did well in the Triple 30. We passed Mike Mahaney and some of those guys, which was surprising because we did not plan on doing so well in the big-block,” said Drellos. “We were running really good in the Big-Block throughout the day. We pitted and were on a really good strategy and could go the rest of the way after that one stop. After that, the cracked tube broke inside and just ruined our day,” Drellos said.
Drellos’ final two races of the season took place at The Dirt Track at Charlotte for the World of Outlaws World Finals presented by Can-Am. Unfortunately, the mechanical gremlins followed the team to North Carolina, at least for their first qualifying attempt.
“This was my second time at World Finals. You know how that track is on qualifying day. It’s just really hammer down with the big cushion. Starting position is everything at the track,” said Drellos. “It’s a really racy track but you can’t start 20th and win there. We had carb trouble the first day and we couldn’t get through the Heat Race. Then in the Last Chance Showdown, we finished two spots out but made it in on a provisional.”
Drellos then made a statement with a heat race win, qualifying for the second feature and besting seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard.
In the first feature Drellos came from the rear of the field to 13th, but a crash in front of him left Drellos with nowhere to go and he was collected. His modified required a new front clip, but his team made the change in time for the second feature.
“We rebuilt the whole front end and got ready for the second feature,” said Drellos. “We won our heat race and beat Matt Sheppard. We redrew second. Of course, Matt Sheppard drew the pole. I got passed early by Billy Decker and Tim Fuller. Those guys are so experienced and really talented. We weren’t bad though and got fifth in the race. That’s a very difficult track. It’s not like anything we race up here. There is a lot of circular momentum racing. It’s like Mohawk Int’l Speedway so I think that’s why Tim Fuller runs so well there.”
Drellos, who will be coming for the Rookie of the Year Award with the Super DIRTcar Series, said he wouldn’t be able to race without the support of his family and crew.
“Week nights in the shop it’s me and my dad, George. We do 90 percent of the work,” Drellos said. “My mom, Dawn, is a really supportive person and co-owns the car with my dad. My crew chief for the Super DIRTcar Series is Michael Horton. Joe and Jo Anne Huguley, who does my social media, are my biggest supporters. My girlfriend, Alexis, is always there for me, as well as crew members, Lara and Tom.”