Bagley moves up to late model division at Jefferson
Mike Klawitter/Thistle Correspondent | Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2013 9:45 am
McFarland native Tory Bagley wasn’t planning on racing this year at Jefferson Speedway. He had just
bought a house with his girlfriend in Stoughton and wanted to spend the time doing renovations at his
Then, a man named Chris Stocks came into his life and made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“He said he had an empty seat in his late model,” Bagley said. “We had a meeting, talked more a couple
of weeks later, and he decided he wanted to put me into his race car. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it at
first. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I decided I couldn’t turn it down.”
Bagley is now the chauffeur of the late model stock car that was driven by Dan Chesmore, who decided
to leave racing after winning three track championships.
The late model division is a major promotion for Bagley, who had been racing in the sportsman division
since 2008. He has received generous funding from Stocks and his wife Christine to support the race car,
and obtained sponsorship money through businesses such as ABC Supply Company, RV Masters,
Fastsigns, and AmsOil.
While tinkering with his new Chevy Impala mount, Bagley said the learning curve on how to drive the
car around Jefferson’s quarter-mile oval has also been a challenge for him.
“There are a lot of adjustments I could make on the car, and a lot of different ways to set it up,” he said.
“A lot of times, if the car is doing something I don’t like, there are four or five things I can do to correct
that. There are also a lot more parts on the car that I have to keep my eye on.”
Bagley is also trying to get used to the engine which has about 75 more horsepower than a sportsman.
“It is definitely more challenging because you have a more powerful car,” he said. “I realized you have to
be smoother on the throttle. It put a big grin on my face to put the gas pedal to the floor, and feel the
horsepower the car had.”
Bagley says the lap times on a late model car are a little over a half second faster at Jefferson compared
to the sportsman car he used to drive.
“That may not seem like much, but that’s a lot,” he said. “On a small quarter mile track, two tenths of a
second is huge.”
Yet, Bagley didn’t care for the car’s manual steering and has since replaced it with power steering to
make the vehicle more maneuverable on the track.
“I was getting fatigued after 30 laps of racing,” he said. “The power steering provides a little more give
on the front tires.”
Bagley competed in the new car for the first time in late April, and didn’t qualify fast enough in time
trials to make it to the feature race. So, he was forced to drive in the last-chance race where the top four
finishers get into the feature.
“I ended up third after starting eighth,” he said. “That race is definitely not fun. Everyone is fighting for
position. A lot people end up in a wreck, because they are trying as hard as they possibly can to make it
into the feature.”
Bagley finished eleventh in the feature, but the second week was much different as his qualification time
improved and he ended up starting outside row one on route to a third place finish.
On May 11, Bagley qualified for the feature again and was among the leaders in the opening laps before
Last Saturday, Bagley was at the front of the pack for the feature and finished a respectable fifth.
Currently seventh in the point standings, Bagley said he has been experimenting week after week to
determine how to get more speed out of the car.
“I’ve been learning a lot about this car by just working on it,” he said. “You’re not going to learn
anything by just standing around and looking at it. I’m in my garage sometimes until three o’clock in the
morning working on this car. I’ve learned a lot about it in the couple of months I’ve had it.”
Bagley said he is hopeful he can win a feature race before the end of this season, but his main goal will
be to qualify fast enough to get into the feature.
“We are lower funded and don’t have the equipment of some of the other teams,” he said. “I just want to
be in the feature every week. That’s the toughest part of it all. We have 20 cars that are within two-tenths
of a second of each other and that makes it hard to be among the top 14 of the 25 cars that race there
Bagley said he is now trying to sell his old sportsman car, minus the engine, which he will save for parts
to use on the late model. He built the car himself and finished eighth in points in 2011 and third last
season. He admits it will be bittersweet the day the car is finally sold.
“I told my girlfriend I would probably cry when that car leaves,” he said. “But, if I want to go further
with this late model division, I have to sell it. There comes a point in a man’s life when he has to get rid
of the thing he loves the most.”