When it comes to racing stock cars with the International Motor Contest Ass’n, better known as IMCA, there is no one better than Mike Nichols.
In fact, one might argue there are few better in the history of IMCA than Nichols.
Last season, Nichols, 43, became the winningest driver in IMCA history. He ended the season with 561 victories, surpassing IMCA great David Murray Jr. for the No. 1 spot on thelist of all-time IMCA winners.
“Those are just IMCA point season wins. I’ve been asked so many times about how many total wins that I have,” Nichols said. “I went and figured that out. I’m at like 646 now.”
That’s just the cherry on top of an incredible career for the Harlan, Iowa, resident. Last year, he registered his ninth IMCA Sunoco Stock Car national championship, giving him the most national championships in one division in modern IMCA history. He also added four track titles to his ledger last season, giving him 42 IMCA track championships during his astounding career.
It’s amazing to think about all Nichols has accomplished. It’s even more amazing when one considers that Nichols took up racing as a hobby in order to bond with his father Stan, who died in November 2019.
“My family doesn’t really have much history involved in racing,” Nichols said. “I was the youngest of four kids and by seven years up to my next sibling. It got to the point where I was the youngest and the only one in the house and my dad was a traveling salesman, so he was gone during the week.
“My mom insisted that father and son do something in order to still have a bond together. We got involved in go-kart racing and then the go-kart racing eventually evolved into car racing when I turned 16.”
Nichols has rarely slowed since and his accomplishments prove it. He made his car racing debut in the hobby stock class in 1994, but he has really made a name for himself in the stock car class.
“I really, absolutely love the stock car class,” said Nichols. “I always have. The stock car class, it started to die a little bit I think maybe 10 years ago. I stuck it out. I just figured if we’re going out, I’m going to take it all the way out. Now, it’s really resurged here, especially in my neck of the woods, the last two or three years.
“We have a lot of modified and late model guys that are getting into stock cars and to me that makes it more fun,” Nichols added. “Having guys with talent and resources racing against you, it makes you better. I feel like I’ve probably made some people better over the years by racing against them, and now, I’ve got a lot of guys that are making me a lot better by racing against me.”
The numerous track titles he’s claimed along the way are proof of Nichols’ skill and tenacity behind the wheel. In 2020, he took things one step further by winning four track championships.
It was no small feat as Nichols raced Thursday through Sunday every week during the summer. Strangely, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that put him in a position to race for four track titles in a single year.
“If I said that I raced a lot only because of COVID, that would be a lie, but racing the four nights instead of three nights a week was contributed to by COVID,” Nichols explained. “I am also a traveling salesperson by day. Our travel was severely restricted as of the second week in March. That allowed me to add that Thursday night track into the mix.”
Nichols raced at U.S. 30 Speedway in Columbus, Neb., on Thursday. He’d then travel to Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Iowa, to race on Friday. On Saturday, Nichols shifted his focus to Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa, before ending his weekend at Dawson County Raceway in Lexington, Neb.
By the time the season was over, Nichols had registered 32 victories and the aforementioned four track titles.
“The chips kind of fell into place for me with winning all of them,” Nichols acknowledged.
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