The northeast racing scene is widely considered to be some of the most prestigious competition in the dirt track universe. Drivers like Billy Pauch, Brett Hearn and Lance Dewease are seen as some of the best wheelmen to ever grace this planet. Yet as time passes, new faces rise through the ranks and look to take this mantle from the legendary veterans. The next generation of superstars are emerging quickly to be the next heroes of dirt track racing, and while there are quite literally hundreds of phenomenally talented drivers; it is time to narrow it down to the best of the best.
The stipulations and parameters of this list is simple. To be considered, one must be 25 years of age at the maximum and must race dirt cars on dirt oval racetracks. This is measured by statistics only and does not consider equipment or divisions. This is simply a top 10 list of the best future stars in the northeast based on what they have been able to do in the racecars they have driven.
Take a look at who will be taking over the sport of automobile racing in the next couple of years.
1. Briggs Danner
This should come as no surprise to anyone. Briggs Danner has done everything but set the world on fire over the past year and has rapidly reached the top of anybody’s list. Since jumping into a wingless sprint car, Danner has nearly won more races than he’s lost and is rarely seen outside the top 3 in the USAC East Coast division. On top of that, he is always a top contender in the all-star field of the Speedstrs and toppings on the pizza is the fact that he won in his very first micro sprint race. Danner is versatile, explosive, fearless, and his future is therefore limitless. He comes from a quarter midget background and has earned his climbing of the ladder every step of the way. The Danner family is a humble, amazing group of people and this is reflected in Briggs’ character. He is one of the hottest names in motorsports right now and certainly one to keep an eye out for to say the least.
2. Damon Paul
If you have seen Damon Paul wheel a racecar, you know exactly why he is here. Paul, nicknamed “Ginger Larson” by his contemporaries, has grown to dominate every division of cars he has ever raced. He was a champion in the Junior Slingshot division, a champion in the Stage 1 Modified division, and now a relentless winner and champion in the 600 Micro Sprint division. Paul is coming off a season with two track championships at the arguably most competitive micro sprint tracks in America and over 20 wins all across the United States; including the Terry Sprague Memorial race that held over 100 drivers. He now is quickly getting his feet wet in the USAC East Coast division and sits 6th in points in his rookie season. Paul and his father give their absolute all to the racing world and have inspired everybody they have come across to work as hard as they do. There is no barrier between Paul becoming one of the best racecar drivers in the world, and at the very least he is a top 10 young driver in the northeast.
3. Alex Yankowski
Alex Yankowski is a certified superstar in the highly competitive modified division. Every year of the last few years has seemed like his breakout season, yet he just keeps getting better and better. Yankowski can always be seen charging through the field at tracks like Bridgeport Speedway, Big Diamond Speedway, and Penn Can Speedway. It is unbelievable what he has been able to do as a teenager, and it is easy to forget just how young he really is in comparison to the other stars of the modified division. On top of that, Yankowski also runs extremely well in the Speedstr class at Action Track USA. It is quite clear that he is taking the reigns from the modified legends and quickly grasping this sport in the palm of his hands. No matter what the kid jumps in, the car is going to the front. The Yankowski family is an amazing, hard working group of people that will continue to provide Alex with the tools he needs to be the next Brett Hearn or at least the man to take down Stewart Friesen for years to come.
4. Tanner VanDoren
What else is there to say about this kid? It has been difficult to fathom how much he has accomplished in such a young career. At the ripe age of 13 years old, VanDoren has wheeled several types of racecars to victories and championships in route to becoming one of the top Crate Sportsman drivers in the northeast and a top Small Block Modified driver at the famed Orange County Fair Speedway. He has learned to dominate in every step of his career and never fails to outshine expectations. Just when you think his biggest moment has come, he follows it up with an even bigger one. VanDoren won the Eastern States race last year at OCFS and several Short Track Super Series races across the northeast. It is a spectacle to see such a young kid show so much intelligence and ability behind the wheel of a racecar, almost as if he’s a walking magic trick. His future looks as if it may be one of the brightest in the racing world, and it will be an exciting story as it is just beginning to unfold.
5. Anthony Macri
Many believe the Pennsylvania Posse to be the most talented group of racers in the world, and Anthony Macri has clawed his way to the top tier of competitors as a 410 Sprint Car driver. Macri has become more and more successful by the season as it seems his peak is far from being reached. The rim riding maniac is not only an exhilarating show on the track, but he also is efficient. His fearlessness and maturity behind the wheel takes him to the absolute next level. 410 Sprint Cars are virtually the big leagues of northeast racing, and for Macri to be such a consistent contender at his age is immaculate. His incredible and raw talent is evident to the eye, and it will be amazing to see what he can accomplish in the long career ahead of him.
6. Eddie Strada
Eddie Strada has been one of the best drivers in every car he’s jumped into for a long time, which just goes to show how long he has been at the top of the game. Although his 2020 season was filled with bad luck, it’s impossible to deny just how talented this young man is. Whether it be micro sprints at the most competitive tracks around, sprint cars, or modifieds; Strada has proved himself over and over again as a certified, throttle smashing, absolute wheelman.
7. Kenny Miller
Kenny Miller seems to have rushed out from the cloak of shadows as he suddenly has become one of the top young guns around. Miller has reigned victorious in multiple divisions, is an Action Track USA Champion as well as one of the best Speedstr and USAC East Coast Sprint competitors around. Miller seems to improve more and more by each race, and there is no telling what his prime will look like. Against the best of them, Miller has proven to be one of the most worthy opponents.
8. Kyle Spence
Kyle Spence has traveled around the country for a worthy adversary, but yet always prevails as a victor no matter the car, track, or situation. With a Golden Driller under his belt and multiple, huge wins all across the United States; it’s safe to say he is one of the best. Spence drives everything he can get his hands on and is simply one of those guys that can make any car look good. Watch out for him next year as he is currently recovering from a back surgery.
9. Tommy Kunsman
Tommy Kunsman has been a serious force to be reckoned with in every type of micro sprint for a long time. Whether it be his own car or somebody else’s car, Kunsman can frequently be seen charging his way into victory lane at every racetrack there is. His career has never slowed down for a moment, and as he establishes himself in the USAC East Coast series; it is clear that this guy is the real deal if there has ever been one.
10. Freddie Rahmer Jr.
Anybody related to Freddie Rahmer is bound to have some serious racing talent in their blood, let alone his own son that shares the same name as him. Rahmer Jr. has been illustrious in the early days of his sprint car career to no surprise at all. His driving has carried him to dozens of victories amongst the Pennsylvania Posse and it seems as if these abilities will carry him to dozens of more. Winning in 410 Sprint Cars in Pennsylvania is probably one of the hardest things to do on planet Earth, yet Rahmer Jr. has made it look easy many times in his infant career. It will be awesome to see him follow in the footsteps of his legendary father.
It is an understatement to limit this list to just ten drivers. Racing is a unique sport that combines knowledge, resources, funding, opportunity, and so many more external factors. Many drivers have just as much talent if not more than these names, but they may not have the economic reinforcement or the opportunity that some other drivers do. This is the hamartia of the sport of racing. Please support the sponsors you see on the side of racecars, and please keep an eye out for the “little guys” doing a whole lot with very little. You may even find your new favorite driver.
Here are some honorable mentions and other drivers you should certainly keep an eye out for:
Tyler Dippel, Colin White, Louden Reimert, Logan Rumsey, Dillon Steuer, Christian Bruno, Joe Toth, Kassidy Kreitz, Danny Buccafusca, Jasper Zeigafuse, Dylan Swinehart, Tyler Thompson, Ryan Simmons, Sammy Martz, Tyler Johnston, Joey Amantea, Jared Silfee, Nash Ely, Logan Watt, Nick Sweigart, and much more.
The northeast dirt track racing scene is as rich as ever with young talent; pick your favorite driver before you get called a bandwagon fan! If you are a driver out there that didn’t make this list, I invite you to take it as motivation. Manifest it. Pursue it. Scream your wishes and dreams into the clouds. And then… Make it happen!
Auto-racing is a sport that separates itself from others in more ways than one. A primary reason why it is so outside of the box in comparison to every other sport is that there is virtually no way of practicing or improving one’s skills. A basketball player can put up a thousand shots, a football player can run a thousand routes, a baseball player can go to the batting cages for a thousand hours. A racecar driver can do nothing besides wait for the next race. A phrase long associated with racing has been, “You either have it or you don’t.” In racing, it has long been wondered about what makes somebody better than the next person, and it has long been attributed to intrinsic ability that one is either born with or not. However, the racing world has come face to face with a phenomenon in the past couple of years that has completely opposed these philosophies, and that phenomenon’s name is Kyle Larson. No human being since the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan has dominated professional levels of a sport like Kyle Larson has the past few years. After a season with 42 wins in 82 races and an average finish of 3.2 in divisions that most people that have a clue about racing consider the most competitive and talent-filled in the world, a question has rose from the depths of confusion from racers and fans alike…
Why is Kyle Larson so good?
What does he do so differently than the next top driver on the track that simply makes him so much better than the rest of the racecar drivers in the world? The answer lies in the analysis of his skill, his experience, and most of all, his spirit.
Obviously, Larson’s raw talent and immense ability behind the wheel is a primary contributor into him perhaps being the greatest driver ever. To watch him is to watch unbelievable precision and an out of this world level of intelligence symbiotically working together to produce a perfect balance of fearlessness and consistency. Larson is not the least scared on the track, there are plenty of drivers that seem to exhibit less fear than him. Larson is not the smoothest on the track, he has said himself that long time teammate and friend, Christopher Bell, is a smoother racecar driver than him. Nevertheless, “Yung Money” has combined both archetypes of driving styles to design his own as if his talent is his own painting. With a stroke of red paint, his aggression is encapsulated. With a stroke of blue paint, his patience is created. The California native’s skill is a purple masterpiece, while everybody else seems to either be red or blue. Larson is able to call upon this skill whenever he chooses, knowing the exact points when to be stomping on the throttle and when to be easing his way off of the turn. A fan in the bleachers will never be able to find Larson following the same line as the person in front of him. The legendary Larson is never playing defense on the racetrack; he is constantly in attack-mode and on the search for any ounce of grip he can find to chase down the racer in front of him. This is a reflection and one of many examples of his attentiveness and intelligence, as he simply knows what to do with the momentum that he finds on the track. A moment is never wasted with Larson, he dedicates every thousandth of a second on the racetrack to either pursuing or analyzing the surface of the track. Take it from somebody who has went door to door with the phenom on several occasions. World of Outlaws winner and Pennsylvania Posse member Ryan Smith says, “Kyle is always one step ahead. He sees the moisture on the track before anybody else can, that’s his greatest advantage. It’s not about him not making mistakes, it’s how much better he is at responding to his mistakes and the track conditions.” Larson’s skill may be the 8th wonder of the world, even to his contemporaries.
Mastering anything takes an extreme extent of experience, and Kyle Larson certainly has that in his repertoire as well. It cannot be denied that he races more than just about anyone. With the freedom of not choosing to commit to a series, Larson was racing nearly every day of the week last year. The World of Outlaws series ran about 65 races last year, the USAC midgets only run about 40 races per year, while the All-Star Sprint Car series consists of a 50-race schedule. Larson mostly dabbled in all three of these series, totaling up to 82 races he competed in by the end of the year. When a driver is racing almost every night, it is that much harder to get them out of their groove. On top of that, when Larson isn’t behind the wheel of an actual car, he’s behind the wheel of a virtual one. Larson is an avid iRacing driver as well, and advocates for the virtual simulation racing as something that has amplified his talent to what it is today. Yung Money’s entire life revolves around driving some sort of racecars, he quite literally spends every moment of the day indulging in the racing universe in some way shape or form. This has allowed him to become a maestro and savant of anything racing related, his opportunities to be versatile and race so often in so many different types of racecars has been an insurmountable component to his masterful talent. With practice makes perfect, and Larson definitely has a lot more “practice” than most of the drivers he competes against. Given his vast schedule, the 28-year-old superstar has little to nothing to lose as well. If something happens on Friday, Larson has the opportunity to bounce back within a day, and is therefore always on the offense in every race he competes in. While it’s safe to say that he is in his prime, all racing competitors are in huge trouble if he isn’t yet.
Let’s take it a step deeper now. The reasons why Kyle Larson dominates at such a high level can only be pondered upon, and while he is a generally quiet character, I believe that his spirit is the true separation between him and most other drivers. In racing, fans will rarely see self-awareness from their favorite drivers. It is beyond common for a racer to blame any sort of shortcoming on the car, the track, or another driver. In Larson’s case, there is zero evidence of him blaming anything on anybody other than himself. The level of self-awareness he displays is unheard of, and with every post-race interview this becomes more and more evident. He is harder on himself than anybody could ever be, and has built his psychology to not be satisfied with anything other than complete and total domination. Another dimension of Larson’s spirit that I’ve noticed is his ability to recall nearly every turn of a race, his mind is very analytical and allows for him to be more methodical and conscious than other drivers. His memory seems to be close to photographic, as he can explain his thought process from every moment of the race. Most other drivers are mostly mindless and consumed in the adrenaline of speed and chaos, yet to Larson, he makes it sound like he just finished playing a game of chess. Similar to how LeBron James can give the audience a play by play of an entire game, Larson is aware enough on the track to choose what he’s doing at every moment. He is always driving the car, the car or track is never in control of him. Larson’s genuine love for the sport is evident, and his nature as a analytical man full of self-awareness and accountability combined with an undying pursuit to improve with every lap he completes is beyond all else what separates him from the next guy on the racetrack. The other drivers claim they live with these mindsets, Kyle Larson actually does. When attempting to solve the great equation of why he is so incredible, look no further than his insight into his spirit.
So… Why is Kyle Larson so good?
The recipe for his talent is the mixture of his powerful spirit and the skills he has manifested through his passion, intelligence, and experience. Kyle Larson is hands down the greatest driver in the world, and maybe in the history of auto-racing. Watch out for him this year as he takes his talents back to NASCAR behind the wheel of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports machine! If you are not interested in racing at all, I promise he will be the man that makes you interested.
If you do not believe me, see for yourself:
Art by Liam Mather (@sha.mang)
A flower, a bird, a story.
I did not have friends as the years passed. A lonely soul, trapped in a population utterly controlled material, violence. I found connections, relationships with the only parts of the world that would bring me in to their home, the only parts of the world, that welcomed.
Things that one can give, without possession.
Growth, love, creation.
I had a flower, that grew.
For years, this rose sat in the sunlight that reflected around my room.
It was a vibration, a message, of something beautiful,
that will always be there, if nothing else is.
The rose sprouted by the day,
watered by the rain of knowledge,
bathed by the light of meditation,
absorbed by the soil of passion.
But on a late night, I came home.
The rose, had deceased.
I had a bird, I loved.
It's immense color expanded daily.
It's wings flapped in the air of spirit,
it latched itself, upon my shoulders,
that became immune to weight.
I fed this bird, all the beauty I knew to express.
Food of art, nutrition of effort,
water of importance,
treats, of material.
I cherished the bird,
a spark of hope,
the epitome of all things gorgeous,
and all mine.
Yet the bird, had passed.
I wrote a story, I created.
A story of adventure,
Inked by tragedy,
written by the pen of the mind's complexity.
Rage, fallen heroes, angelic voices,
singing to my paper.
Characters of striking images,
elements of something,
more than science.
I came home, to a home burned.
My story, had disintegrated.
My soul, is all that I have left to give,
all that I have left to control,
and I do not know if I can even do that.
If this pain is a civilization,
time has caused addition and renovation.
At this point, I can fall asleep in the trenches of war,
If God is in control, I do not want to go to heaven no more.
The higher power, pushes me to the edge.
Please don't kill me.
I am my last love, no longer another to share this bed.
Please don't kill me.
All of my Friends R Dead.
Art by Liam Mather (@sha.mang)
I find it odd, endlessly confusing,
that the happiest days,
the brightest skies,
the serenity struck nights,
always decease the quickest.
Perhaps reality, is at war with our spirits.
After all, God loves destruction, murder,
he does it every day.
The power does not want you to be free,
and perhaps, it is not our friend.
We may be the unwanted children,
the misfits of the magic this world possesses.
This life may be a challenge,
a push off of the ledge,
a gun to our head,
to be the candle in the deepest depths of these shadows.
The world has hurt you, so punish it.
Punish it with your ferocious passion.
Evolve beyond it through elevation and exploration.
The power, reality,
does not want to see you prosper in peace,
smile in serenity,
break free from this cage.
So, do it.
Don't let life make you it's bitch,
push your foot in to the power's throat.
This is your revenge.
Be strong enough,
to raise your middle finger to the sky,
Art by: Liam Mather
This world we call home, is benevolent,
so I am homeless, at ease,
because being lost is where I find eloquence,
roses and bees.
I could never be lonely, there is no such thing as nothing.
This pain is percussion, my mind is in plummet.
I feel prosperity, so I refuse destruction.
I am in battle, invested in evolution.
There is revenge, music.
Every minute, is revolution.
Conflict, is conquest.
In silence, I find knowledge.
I am lost in my galaxy, searching the stars.
This life is a painting,
swirling, expanding, burning in heart.
This is my canvas, my damage.
This world is our home,
But my soul has it’s own planet.
This world has a lot to offer, if you listen.
It is more, than an incision.
In the holocron of pain, you will find a vision.
The spirit of mind, has the power of extinction.
How could I ever be lonely?
I have my own universe to destroy.
How could I ever be lonely?
Where there is nothing, I find the most noise.
I drown in thought, emotion, but it is not death
Prosperity in passion, love in sex,
Poetry from pain, beginnings in end.
How could I ever be lonely?
I pass the herb to my other hand,
How could I ever be lonely?
My aurora is it’s own planet, it’s own motherland.
This is an intrinsic dream, and you are a dream becoming true.
Every moment is an image, and something new.
How could I ever be lonely?
Photo by Bryce Carpenter.
I am a creation of power,
birthed by roots of sacrifice,
illustrated by tragedy,
built upon the smiles, of those that have been waiting the entire day for it.
I have given love,
to the sun.
It's heat leaks in to my veins,
tattoos itself to my body.
It has burned me,
but not buried me.
I awake, amongst the demons of war.
I rise, beyond the instrument of chaos, amplified in to energy's ear.
The night sky has fallen,
upon the roof of my light.
Space agrees with time,
Batman and The Joker,
share a laugh.
Roses, fall upon the feet of hope.
Eagles, fly above the sorrows of reality.
Clouds, rhythmically play a tune, for the crowd below.
Waves, crash amongst the peace of the beach.
Nature, has learned to fall asleep during war.
The world hugs, holds hands,
the yin, and the yang,
Empower. Evolve. Explore. Embrace.
For Kenny James Patterson #JusticeForKJP
We are souls, we do not have souls.
Love derives from infinite capacities. We are the physical embodiment of love, and therefore we indulge ourselves in to anything that makes us feel that reflection of the peak of who we are. Whether it be what you have passion and work towards every day, the parents that eye’s you look in to at birth, the person that you wake up next to, the pet that you speak to so endearingly, or the best friend you can scream at and cry to without a worry, love is dimensional. It’s power is limitless, as it is literally the who, the what, and the why of what we are. No matter how much you may fight the love at times, it will take control of your next move, and your every intention.
It is truly beautiful,
Yet we lose it.
The higher power loves killing people, it does it every day. It’s twisted, as the reality so far from your control rips what you stand for, what you have become, right out of your chest and then stomps on it with the might of extinction. It’s as if the world never wants you to love again. Tears come to your face at the moments you once took advantage of pass with time. A certain scar is incinerated within you, yet there is not a single emotion within your face. This world chills your bones sometimes, at how smarter it is than you.
When you are least expecting, it strikes.
The scariest thing to a human mind is change, and it changes you like no other
This loss of love,
It can be death, it can be heart break,
This meteor to mind,
Makes you want to scream where the stars stay,
This world, this life,
Cherish it, even through the dark days.
Don’t let go of your love, don’t let go of your spirit.
You are a soul, you do not have a soul.
This body you possess and control is a flesh suit. This world with buildings, cars, school, jobs, is a phase. Maybe, this is where we suffer. This is where we get to experience the intrinsic beauty of flaw, where we get to feel the pressure of responsibility, where we are overcome with revenge, where we have to lose things that we love.
Find a moment, a niche of serenity for just this second, and rejoice.
You fed that person the soul’s nutrition and power. You added a dimension to that person’s mind. You gave them the life of their spirit. You felt love for them.
Who they are, is more because of you.
If they wander among this world with you, or their souls wander through the cosmic adventure that is the afterlife, their soul is as powerful as the love you dispersed to them. Your voice, your energy still rests in their veins and speaks to their mind. Everything you did was worth it, as they absorbed the spirit you fueled them with. You gave them experience, moments, images, that are beyond this lifetime, this reality.
Think more of yourself, your superpower, your love.
That love is not lost in the wind of time and does not pass with their life or their distance.
It empowers their spirit that made their life so valuable, so worth missing.
It teaches them, that every damn moment on the face of this Earth isn’t worth taking advantage of.
You loved so hard, and despite the moments that may be Armageddon to your mind, never forget what you gave that person… love.
A piece of your soul will forever roam with them, and your heart will forever matter to them. Their entity is on fire, with the spark you birthed within them.
The dynamism of art, from poetry to illustration,
to the explosions of nature, from the color in the world to the volcanoes beneath it,
rushes and empowers the blood in the veins of those who have traveled.
Forever evolving, but symbolizing freedom in it's purity,
and the utmost desires of,
Breathe, this love has built a civilization within you. Breathe, this loss is a new building, a new dimension. Your hand still holds theirs, your fire is still theirs, and your love is still there.
It can never broken, and nothing shall ever replace.
You are so powerful, and so are they.
You are a soul, you do not have a soul,
And that is why,
The love that you lost, is not far from home.
Until you meet again,
Express, let the tears come to your eyes.
They say beauty is a dead word, so fuck it,
CHECK OUT SWISHA THE KID'S NEW TRACK ON SOUNDCLOUD HERE:
The soldier is not defined by the shadow that may harness him,
The soldier is experience, wisdom, the soldier knows what darkness is.
The soldier is not born, the soldier is mentality, the soldier is passion.
The soldier is bravery, the soldier is action.
The soldier is strength, able to hold the world upon his shoulders,
God throws rocks at things that shine, but for the soldier he throws boulders.
The soldier emerges from fire, and comes out with ice.
The soldier has no armor, but never shies from fight.
The soldier stands tall, the soldier has no fear,
yet even the soldier, will sit lonely and shed a tear.
Photo by Bryce Carpenter.
The world has hurt me tremendously, so I run from it and sit in silence.
My mom tries to tell me there is peace, but in my mind there is violence.
It seems as if mankind is in a movement, and I refuse to stand behind it.
And if I've ever lived a life of prosperity and serenity, please God,
can I rewind it?
I feel the universe, as if everything is a bullet that has pierced me.
My momma tells me to please smile and be cheery,
but momma the world has hurt me severely,
and that is why I yell at people to not come near me,
and why I fight so hard, and my tears deep.
I wonder, if this will ever be worth it.
If the love I feel for my brothers and sisters, will ever have a purpose.
Every day I take on the world, as if it is a beach and I am a tsunami current.
God, if there is anyone that deserves a smile, I think I have earned it.
This world holds a path, a forest I have not explored.
I search within myself, as if there is an answer in my inner core.
My emotions are the heat of an Arizona Summer, and every one's heart is an Arctic Tundra, a winter storm.
I ask God, why do I seek so much peace, if inside of me,
there is a war?
The story of the man that stands silent,
the only human, that wishes to be like the rest, careless and mindless.
whom sits in the chair of life, and dreams to recline it.
The boy of pain, who sees the shadows and scars as timeless,
who wishes he could be God, not for the lust or the power,
but so he could recreate himself,
and edit his mind, perhaps redesign it.
I ask God, for an answer as my eyes open in hopeful enlightenment,
"Relax homie. Just for tonight, maybe wine is."
There is a certain aspect in life, humanity,
I can’t describe it.
The music of voices emulates in to the air differently,
Their own vicious vulnerability, intense insecurities,
Their own hidden hamartias
The depth of their oceans is the unknown of space and time.
The way they bind together,
Is something of a mystic.
Their scars are valleys,
That have run deep in to the mantle of their soul.
Their eyes are deep, jungles of the depths of life.
Their own worlds,
Their conversations so alike,
Yet they are so distinct.
Their own step to their walk,
Their own transparent truths,
Their own egos they emulate, images they implicate.
Their own energy dispersed.
There is nobody opposite, nobody similar.
We are just soul’s roaming,
Through the magic that makes us all walk among the same Earth,
But so distant from each other in our fields of adventure,
While interwoven only through the love we build for one another.
This, is what the world would look like if it told us the truth,
About its spirit.