TULSA, Okla. — After posting an impressive performance during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals with Thomas Meseraull and then virtually falling off the radar, RMS Racing is back in a big way.
The team, led by former driver Matt Estep and his father, Dave, has confirmed plans for a two-car assault for the remainder of the season, tackling a mix of USAC and POWRi national midget events.
Meseraull will drive the team’s familiar No. 7x, joined by newcomer Clinton Boyles in the No. 98. It’s a mix of youth, experience and fire, but one that Dave Estep is particularly excited about.
“We’re really looking forward to this and Clinton brings a lot of youth to our team,” Estep said. “I went to Missouri and watched him drive a sprint car recently, and I think he did a good job of not getting in over his head. He wrecked the car pretty hard, but it was that he got caught up in a bad situation. And I think he has a great understanding of the cars, which really helps a team like ours in a big way.
“They were both at the shop this week, Thomas and Clinton, and I said to myself, ‘Boy, there’s a contrast for you,’ with Thomas and Clinton,” he continued. “They’re two opposite ends of the spectrum. You’ve got Thomas who is flamboyant and all this and Clinton is just laid back and sort of reserved. I think it’s a very different mix, but it’s a good mix and something that will bode well for us this year.”
The spark to bring Boyles aboard came about after a series of selected events last season that he drove for the team. It started when Boyles filled in for Meseraull in one race and culminated with a strong run — that just didn’t net the end result it deserved — during the Gateway Dirt Nationals in December.
“It all started actually at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway with a POWRi race that he ran for us last year, and he almost won the thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure he would have won the race had he not spun on the last lap. He was a half a lap ahead at that point,” Estep noted with a chuckle. “So that’s where all this started, and we’ve liked him ever since. We’re really excited to work with him and feel like he brings a lot to the table, like I said.”
Boyles was quick to note he didn’t initially anticipate his one-off starts for RMS in 2019 transitioning into a longer-term deal. However, he is pleased with what has come together for himself and for the team.
“I don’t know whether we realized it or not at the time, but the puzzle pieces all fell together to make this deal happen,” Boyles noted. “Obviously, I wanted to drive for these guys really bad. It’s a dream situation to step into for any driver. So the fact that they believed in me is amazing. These guys give Thomas and me, anything we want or feel like we need as a team to go be competitive and win races.
“At the end of the day, they’ve got us here because they want us to win races and that’s going to be our job,” he added. “If we can go out and do that and have some fun along the way, I think that’s huge. A big emphasis for these guys is having fun at the race track and I believe we’re going to have a great year.”
For Boyles, he’s also eager to get started and looking forward to learning from “one of the best in the business,” as well as a driver he fought tooth-and-nail with for the Gas City I-69 Speedway non-winged sprint car championship two years ago.
“It’s really cool for me, because I think Thomas has been through a lot of the steps that I’m trying to go through as a young racer right now,” Boyles noted. “Over the last two or three seasons, it’s kind of seemed like we developed … not necessarily a rivalry racing sprint cars at Gas City, but we’ve been the two guys on top at the end of it pretty much each and every night. We’re always the ones battling.
“Through that we’ve obviously developed a really good relationship and he’s kind of the one that got me involved with these (RMS) guys in the first place last year, when I ran a couple of races for him. It has been really cool to have him help me out. That relationship has grown even more now as teammates, to where we share information and really try and push each other to be better.
“Sometimes that’s not always happy go lucky, but we make it work and I think we’re both better for it.”
The RMS team’s planned schedule has the duo starting out with this weekend’s USAC National Midget Series doubleheader at Port City Raceway, before heading on to Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., for the second half of a POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League weekend at that facility.
They’ll then focus toward the four-night Turnpike Challenge against the POWRi field in Oklahoma at the end of May. It’s an ambitious schedule, but one made easier by both a brand new race shop and the addition of legendary mechanic Donnie Gentry to the team.
It’s all with an eye toward building the team’s strength for a bigger challenge in 2021.
“What we’re doing right now, all of this is meant to gear us up and get us ready for going after a championship next year,” Dave Estep tipped. “These are the first steps right now and we hope that by taking this process gradually, we’ll be at the top of our game when it comes time to get down to the points fight next season.”