Sycamore Speedway doubles as The Land of Chevrolets when it comes to Late Models racing.
Monte Carlos and Camaros typically rule pit row, with Caprices and Novas vying for the checkered flag each week in greater obscurity.
The car Cory McKay is captaining during his first season in the circuit turns heads for falling in the latter category. That the 22-year-old from the Valley View area of St. Charles still gets the most from his 1977 Caprice means he could be starting a new trend.
“When we were building it, people told us to get a Monte Carlo, that the Caprices just don’t keep up,” McKay said. “It’s working pretty well for us so far. We still don’t have that first win yet, but I think we’re getting there.”
McKay vaulted into sixth place in the Late Models points standings behind one runner-up feature finish and a pair of fourth-place races this month.
He enters Saturday’s full show at the speedway, located at 50W086 Route 64 in Maple Park, 40 points behind leader Tim Ludke of St. Charles.
While that’s not an ideal gap, or even the loftiest spot for a series rookie – Marengo’s D.J. Markham sits five points behind Ludke – McKay doesn’t complain. The speedway’s Spectator points champion in 2012 feels confident about his transition into Late Models, which he envisioned from the time he watched his father, John, compete at the track.
“It was always a plan. I always wanted to do more with racing,” McKay said. “Once we saw that we were capable of doing something, we got a car that we could build up for it, we went out there and are doing the best we can.”
McKay needs to look no further than his friend and fellow St. Charles East graduate, Ludke, for precedent for a breakthrough.
After shining in Spectators – including as one of the “Six Pack Crew” with Corey Marshall and an emerging McKay a few years ago – Ludke overcame a late May wreck to finish third in his Late Models debut in 2011. He won the points title last season and, still just 25, anticipates big things for Late Models with McKay in the picture, Caprice and all.
“Great driver, man. He’s really impressed me. Everybody out there, he’s got their respect,” Ludke said. “Of course he races hard, but he runs clean, too. It’s great how these newer guys are doing and running as well as they are. It means there’s a bright future for this class.”
That’s always what McKay has wanted to hear as part of a family that’s seen its share of racing in the speedway’s 50 seasons.
McKay’s grandmother used to take his father and his siblings to the track. An older brother is bracing to get his career rolling, too.
“We try to run as clean as we can, make as many friends as we can. I’ve always prided myself on that,” McKay said. “I think it helps me and the track, and if everyone likes me, they’ll give me a little more space, you know.”