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McGuinn keeps late model trophy in Carbon County

Sun Advocate reporter

Mike McGuinn leads the pack in a late model race earlier this season. McGuinn outraced several visiting racers on May 22 to take the WDRA event.

When the Western Dirt Racing Association late model event came to Price on May 22 to open the 2004 season, experienced and competitive drivers flooded the Desert Thunder Raceway.

For local drivers, it was a good chance to see where they stood.

Carbon County Mike McGuinn was one such late model racer preparing to test his driving skills against a tough field.

"I was a little nervous and apprehensive at the beginning of the night but the butterflies went away," he noted.

McGuinn would go on to defeat the more experienced visting racers and win the WDRA late model event, with Carbonville resident Corey Smith following in second place.

"It was a big deal because this was a major event and these guys have been doing it for years," he mentioned. "When the big guys come in and you beat them, it's a big deal."

Although McGuinn has only been racing in the late model class since 2002, he began racing in 1979 and has competed on both road and dirt tracks.

However, McGuinn's focus now lies solely in dirt track racing.

According to McGuinn, one of the main differences between dirt and street racing is the traffic.

He said that on a dirt track like the Desert Thunder Raceway, which is only three-eighths of a mile, drivers have to learn how to play the traffic which is always around.

He also added that the changes in the dirt on the track can affect a race, unlike consistant pavement.

He said his interest in the racing began at a very young age.

"I crawled fast when I was little," McGuinn joked. "With racing, once it gets in your blood it doesn't come out."

In order to get ready for each race, McGuinn depends on the help of his two buddies Jim Draper and Jerry Long, and his supportive girlfriend Rhonda Boylan.

His sponsors, Far West Bank, Murdock Chevrolet, Mad Man Bassos, S & V Glass, Sign Edge, JD Racing and also make it possible for him to compete each race.

McGuinn said that the competition in the local area has picked up a lot and that local racers are giving out-of-towners a good run when they come to Desert Thunder Raceway.

"The guys from Grand Junction used to come over and test. Now they have to come over and race," McGuinn commented.

For those looking to get into the sport, McGuinn said that his experience has been nothing but positive.

"There isn't any bad except you get hooked and its a little expensive," he said.

With the Desert Thunder Raceway, beginners have access to a great track and strong competition.

"I feel proud to bring that type of event to Carbon County," raceway owner Harvey Howard commented. "And it's exciting to know someone from our home track is really competing."

According to Howard, the late model class has been building at the raceway for several years.

In addition to McGuinn and Smith, Howard said that Chuck Buchanan and Dusty Safely will round out a strong southeastern Utah presence in upcoming WDRA races.

All four will be competing in the next WDRA race in Dodge City, Kan. on June 5.

Desert Thunder Raceway will also host a race on June 5, with racers competing in the street stock, pure stock, mini, truck and sprint classes. Start time is 6 p.m.

The Desert Thunder Raceway is located on Airport Road in Price.

For more information on the track and race rules, visit

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