GAYLORD, Mich. — As the driver of the RSD Enterprises/SAE Parts No.25 World of Outlaws late model, Shane Clanton is always looking for a way to go faster on the track.
For 2011 however; the Fayetteville, Ga., native took on a new challenge that wasn’t behind the wheel, but instead in the shop getting down and dirty in his roots.
“I’ve been going to races since I was two-weeks old and on a Saturday night if there’s a race somewhere I have always been there,” Clanton said. “My whole family has been involved in the sport.”
Clanton’s father Billy was a well respected race car builder and Shane’s brothers Joey and Rusty still tear up the local asphalt tracks.
Over the winter of 2010 Clanton made the move into the world of car building when he and Marshall Green teamed up to develop a new dirt-late-model chassis. Although the No. 25 team has struggled this season adapting to the new car and reverting to the Rocket Chassis when needed, those struggles have been well worth it for Clanton.
“Developing our own car has been tough,” Clanton said. “We continue to test knowing that it’s good at certain race tracks but not so good at others. We are working on it knowing that we will get there one day. It’s definitely a challenge and a tough one at that, but it is especially important to me because of my father. The fact that I grew up building cars in the shop and got away from it to run other manufacturers equipment, and now am getting back to my semi-grass roots feels good, and it especially feels good because we’ve gone out and won a couple of big races with it already.”
There is no doubt that the team has made great strides since the cars debut in Florida at Speedweeks, and with 2011 drawing to a close in early November at Charlotte, Clanton is sitting a very respectable sixth in the World of Outlaws standings.
For the talented veteran, sitting outside the top five isn’t typical, but in a building year the current ranking showcases not only the 2010 Firecracker 100 winners on track talent, but also the capabilities of the new Capital Race Cars Chassis.
For Clanton, running his own racecar is just another dream come true. For the driver who started in a Sportsman as a teenager back in 1993 at Georgia’s Dixie Speedway, racing full-time was the first step in living out his dreams. When Clanton began competing with the World of Outlaws on a regular basis in 2005 that’s when things started to click.
“It was then that I really looked at it and knew that this was my job,” Clanton said. “It was a little scary at first, but it was what I wanted to do my whole life. It was such an easy decision to make [to compete on a full-time basis] because I had such a great car owner in Ronnie Dobbins and no matter how you look at it racing for a living is pretty cool.”
Just three years after breaking onto the National circuit Clanton took on the World and won the prestigious Eldora Speedway event.
“I can still picture every lap I made that night,” Clanton recalls. “It stays there in the back of my mind because it was such a great experience.”
It’s not just the crown jewel events that keep Clanton coming back for more.
“The greatest moments are going to new race tracks, meeting new people and having fun on the road…it’s pretty exciting and there is something new every day.”
When Clanton is not enjoying the company of his 8-year-old son Ryan Zachary, his time is devoted to building Capital Race Cars, making a chassis that can compete regularly with the top manufacturers.
And even though the No. 25 has exceeded some expectations for 2011, the World Finals in Charlotte will be bittersweet for the RSD team.
“My main goal is to win a WoO points championship, and we’ve come so close twice,” Clanton said. “I think we can do it; we’ve just got to put a whole year together. If we can get through the two to three months where we usually seem to struggle with then we should have a shot.”
One thing is for certain, with an impressive summer in the books, 2012 should be an incredible year for Clanton and the Ronnie Dobbins race team.