Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks Class: Kevin Chase Keeps Passion for Racing All in Family
By Chuck Corder
Five Flags Speedway never shies away from its past.
In fact, unlike politicians and almost everything else, the famed half-mile asphalt oval embraces its history and wears it as a proud badge of courage.
As Five Flags Speedway approaches the 50th anniversary of the Snowball Derby in December, the past is still ever-present around Pensacola’s high banks.
“Shorty” Chase was one of the top drivers at Five Flags Speedway in the late 1960s. Today, son Kevin Chase carries on the family legacy as one of the top drivers in the new Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks division.
“This class is a good fit for me,” said Kevin Chase, who at 46 is finding his niche this season. “I like to stay local, and a lot of the other classes travel and that’s just too much money for me.
“This class puts everybody on an even setup. And it appeals to me that (track officials) will stick to the rules for three years. It’s a different body than late models with 8-inch tires. Plus, I like the crate engines.”
Chase currently sits fifth in points going into Friday night’s 35-lap feature, which shares the marquee on the track’s annual Meet the Drivers Night. The Pro Trucks and their 40-lapper that pays the winner $1,000 also highlights Friday’s slate that also includes The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen (25 laps) and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks (20).
Gates open at 4 p.m. and admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military and students; $5 for children ages 6 to 11; free for kids 5 and under.
When his father’s career was beginning to wind down in the 1990s, Kevin Chase did most of the welding on Shorty’s cars.
Now, the old man returns the favor.
“He basically spots for me,” Kevin Chase said of Shorty. “It’s me and him mostly at the track. He talks about the setup, for the most part. “
Setup is what the Chases know all about.
“Both sides of my families are mechanics. I was kinda cursed into it,” said Kevin Chase, who owns Shark Tooth Automotive Specialists in Gulf Breeze.
It’s obvious the man is good at his job just by looking at the stock car he drives. Chase bought the Frankie Grill chassis in 1996 and has used the car’s foundation to compete in Late Models, Modifieds and Super Stocks at Five Flags since.
As his profession suggests, Chase loves to tinker with cars. When those adjustments don’t pan out, Chase is quick to play devil’s advocate and learn his lesson going forward.
“I do a lotta fine-tuning at the track,” he said. “I like to experiment. At the last race, I totally changed all the springs underneath the car to try and find something different, to see if it would give me more speed. But it was no faster and, I thought, it was a lot looser, as well.
“If you’re not trying something, you’re not going to get any faster. But, certainly, it’s hit and miss.”
With his dad planting the first seed, Chase’s love affair with racing was born and raised in Northwest Florida.
He grew up in Cantonment. So close he could hear the roars of cars putting down laps from his home. But most nights, Chase opted to be front and center, on the edge of his seat at Five Flags, getting his fix.
He has competed off and on since the early 90s, finishing as high as third, including a Modifieds Snowball Derby in the early 2000s. Wife Stephanie “shows up” at each race, but Chase neither has visions of grandeur nor expectations that she’ll work on the car.
While Chase has captured a heat race at Five Flags, he’s still in search of his first career feature victory.
“It’s a lot more competitive than it used to be,” Chase said. “It used to be two or three guys would run off and that left everybody else to scrounge out a decent finish.
“But, with this class, more people seem invested. We had a guy (Corbitt Moseley) in his 60s win a race this year. And we have 15 year olds driving, too. It’s a good variety. Hopefully, everybody stays enthused.”