CA Nix has risen from a local driver to a national name. We sat down with him to discuss his 2017 season, battle for the USRA championship, 2018 plans and future goals:
Q. How did you get into racing, what's your favorite track, what series, divisions or sanctioning bodies do you run under?
A. "My brother started racing mini stocks 7 years before I did. He was extremely successful in that class. When you win all the time it makes racing look great and easy. My whole family was involved so it naturally got me involved when I was old enough. My first race car was a pinto that was a hand me down from my brother. It was called "ugly" it was a beat to shit, miss matched colors race car that won all the time with my brother driving."
"My favorite track doesn't run anymore. It was in Clinton Oklahoma. Fast high bank red clay track. Everyone use to race their back in the day. A weekly show would consist of Rodney Sanders, Eddie Martin, Derick Rameriz, Brandon Kenney, Bryan Rowland, Alan Sharpensten among others. A few times a year you get the Scott twins and Bumper Jones up to race too."
"I only race the modified under the USRA or TOMS banner. I'd like to run some bigger IMCA shows but it's not in our budget to have the ability to be legal in both sanctions. I'd like to run some of the bigger sportmod shows but keeping up with a modified is all we have the ability to do."
Q. How has your 2017 season gone, any major accolades?
A. "This was the best and worst season I've ever had all wrapped up into one. We got a new Hughes car in June of this year. It was the first all-new race car I've ever driven. We made it 4 nights before I got the front clip knocked over and it had to be returned to Hughes. In my 23 years of racing, I'd never knocked a front clip off a race car. Well, 2 weeks ago it happened again."
"We also had a strange part failure that required me to send my engine back to Sputs for a checkup. It wasn't going to make it back in time to race the next TOMS show so I asked Jamie Stoen at Sputs if he knew of any used engines worth the money. Ironically he pointed me to Jason Cummins. We purchased a fresh Sputs from Jason that we have run the remainder of the year."
Q. What was it like battling for the USRA title all the way down to the wire?
A. "We have so far been fortunate enough to have won 2 TOMS shows and 10 races overall with one being the $2,000 Jordan Page Winter nationals at Ardmore. It's hard to say which race meant the most though. Winning the TOMS show at Lawton with all my family and friends there."
"Having to drive around a driver the caliber of Triston Dycas on an extremely slick track made that show very special. Because we compete against large fields of cars every week down here, the national points structure of USRA rewards us with high car count bonuses. I'd guess if you averaged the shows we ran all year we probably had 30 cars a night to compete with."
"When we went to Winston Missouri for the USRA nationals and ran well, it proved that we belong in the conversation with drivers the caliber of Jason Cummins, I think that also shows how tough it is to win in the south. The TOMS series is very tough."
Q. Anything different you wish you would have done to take that championship?
A. "Just to be in the top 5 of the USRA national points was a huge accomplishment for our team. When it got down to the last 2 months and we had a real shot at winning it put a lot more pressure on me to make good decisions about where we raced more than ever before. Other than that I was just happy to be in the conversation with drivers the caliber of that top 5 is very humbling."
"Mother nature always has a huge amount of influence on dirt racing but this year it had even more so on us. We needed to race the Saturday night portion of the USRA nationals at Winston Missouri but it was rained out. So we drive the 8 hours back to Ardmore to get the front clip knocked over again. We work our buts off to get it fixed for severe storms to hit all around us so I ended up having to work(I work for the electric company) instead of taking the chance to drive to Greenville for a TOMS show. Now, this weekend's big TOMS national's has been rescheduled because of freezing temperatures... the TOMS series alone had 9 rainouts with only 2 being able to be rescheduled."
"It's hard for me to say I'd of done much different because of that. I think we did enough for the points to have worked out if only mother nature had been on our side. There's always some little shoulda, coulda, woulda but it's all in God's hands in the end."
Q. Do you plan on making any major changes for 2018 car/chassis wise?
A. "Chassis and engine wise I couldn't be happier with the people we are using. The chassis will have to go back to Hughes over the winter for a new front clip but those guys at Hughes are the best there is so I'm confident that the car will be just as good or better than it has been this year. The guys at Sputs are truly amazing."
"My dad taught me how to build my own engines and we built some really badass Ford's but we never had the resources to make one the thing they provide. I never worry about the engine so I have complete focus on what my chassis is telling me. The whole package like Sputs has done. They make a ton of power and are the most drivable engines I've ever used."
Q. What are your 2018 plans?
A. "2018 is somewhat up in the air for me at the moment. Running for the USRA national points is not gonna be at the top of my list. That took so much sacrifice from my friends and family to for me to keep pushing the last 2 months. I just don't think it's fair to them."
"I'm interested to see what the new USMTS schedule will be like. Rumors of around 40 shows total with a better pay down are very tempting but realistically I can see us competing full time with the TOMS series next year."
"That was the original intent this year too so I guess we'll just see how things go. The finances will probably dictate what happens."
Q. Future goals?
A. "I have already achieved more in racing than I ever thought possible. As short as 2 years ago I just wanted to make the show with the TOMS and USMTS. Now, Rodney Sanders, Triston Dycas, Troy Taylor. People who are not only hugely talented and have been doing this a long time but are good people too. But with those guys and maybe hit some of there big shows. KOA, the Jamboree, and maybe go to Las Cruces before I hang it up. Just making the A at those show if we can just keep having fun I guess that's what really matters for a weekly racer."
"We have an actual shot at winning every time we show up. I've never won a USMTS show so that's an obvious goal but really I'd like to just be competitive, that's a big accomplishment."
"This game is 95% mental and those USMTS guys will bring you back to reality in a hurry. I guess the truth about what my goals are should be much simpler. I wanna earn something that's much more difficult than winning races. I want to earn the respect of guys like Jason Hughes."
*David B. Stukins Photo