CONCORD, N.C. – While sim rigs and iRacing have replaced actual race cars and grandstands the past few weeks, they have created opportunities for racers around the world to compete against some of the biggest names in the sport.
Now, with events like the nationally-televised World of Outlaws Invitationals on FS1, many drivers are racing on the biggest stages they’ve ever seen and taking full advantage.
One driver turning heads is Trent Ivey, a 25-year-old dirt late model racer from Union, S.C., affectionately known as The Li’l Headknocker.
Ivey is now in his second year of dirt super late model competition after gaining several years of pro late model experience behind the wheel of his Ivey Construction No. 88 Longhorn, featuring the Chevrolet Performance Crate engine.
Last Wednesday night on FS1, Ivey took to one of his favorite real-life tracks — The Dirt Track at Charlotte — and wheeled his virtual DIRTVision-sponsored car to the Morton Buildings Late Model iRacing Invitational victory for his 14th career iRacing win on dirt.
Ivey is certainly no stranger to The Dirt Track at Charlotte in real life, nor its victory lane stage either, having competed in all four pro late model events at the track’s World Short Track Championship and winning the 2015 Late Model Circle K Shootout as part of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at the venue.
He also competes with the real-life World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series when the tour comes to Charlotte for the Can-Am World Finals in November, in addition to various other tracks around the Southeast.
But before he ever climbed atop his car in victory lane, Ivey’s road to becoming a local favorite started a generation before him, with his father, Petey Ivey.
A young boy himself, Petey worked at his father’s scrapyard and soon built a race car out of a junkyard car to hit the local tracks with. His motorized creation soon took on the nickname The Headknocker, which later spawned his racing nickname, and thus Trent’s adaptation of it.
After years behind the wheel and moving up the ranks, Petey inherited his father’s growing construction business (Ivey Construction) and became a dirt super late model regular around the Southeast.
“He just stayed with it, about like I did, running the small classes and ended up getting to a late model, and that’s when he really started,” Ivey said. “He got a big rig, then he got two Barry Wright Chassis and then he got two Clements motors. I guess you just stay with something mediocre so long, you’ll eventually get what you want.”
Trent got behind the wheel of his first race car at the humble age of 13 — a four-cylinder young-gun class for the beginners around his local tracks. After a few seasons, he was about ready to give it up, citing a loss of interest.
So, what did father Petey do?
“I told him, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this anymore or not,’ and he said ‘Good, because I just went out and bought you a late model,’” Trent detailed in an old conversation with his dad. “So, he comes home with a brand-new Rocket [Chassis], and I began racing crates. That’s when I started liking racing, because that’s when I felt like I was following in his steps of being a late model racer.”
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