Four-time Northwest late model touring champion, Gary Lewis, took part in a unique stock car race in South Africa and came away with unforgettable memories.
Courtesy: Gary Lewis Racing LLC
SNOHOMISH, Wash. (February 10, 2010)–Four-time late model touring champion, Gary Lewis, has been a part of many great events on and off the race track. From a trip to support our troops in the Middle East to inaugural victories in the Pacific Northwest, the defending ASA Northwest Late Model Tour champion cherishes every moment.
When the opportunity presented itself for the 39-year old Snohomish, Wash. native to travel to South Africa for the inaugural ASA Transcontinental Series Free State 500 Lewis seized the moment, found a car owner in Dick Midgley who provided an outstanding Chevrolet Monte Carlo and set out to make history.
The outcome was more then words could describe, Lewis said.
‘There were way too many cool things to list as a single favorite moment. We met many new friends, I got to get onto a 1.5-mile track, which I’ve been dying to do and we were racing in a (NASCAR Sprint) Cup-style race car.
“We had a great time working with the Midgley Motorsports team and look forward to racing with them in the future. It was really cool being able to bring my family, my race team which are some of my best friends and have the opportunity to share our South Africa experiences together.”
Lewis has had an unbelievable ability to adapt to new racing facilities but the Free State 1.5-mile oval was a test more demanding then any faced in the past, he explained.
“It doesn’t really compare to anything that I have done in the past but I will tell you that it fit my driving style very well. We had one of the fastest cars (including several of the fastest laps turned in practice sessions) and feel that we could have easily won that race if our motor had not laid down for a few laps there at the end.”
After leading for much of the afternoon Lewis managed to find himself in a position to regain a lap lost with a slow going power plant and move to sixth place just as the checker flag flew.
Dialing in Midgley’s Monte Carlo for over 200 laps of racing was a challenge at first as Lewis has rarely driven for or been with a race team other then his parent’s Gary Lewis Racing LLC operation.
“This was a big experience for myself and the team for sure as we’re used to doing everything on our own especially myself because I call all the set-up adjustments and usually do our pre-race set-up preparation on the car. It was great to work with Dick (Midgley) and his team; they’re great people. I think I just had to gain some trust (with the Midgley Motorsports crew) before they would let loose a little which is understandable.
“The car they gave me was in great shape and we were very impressed with that. Our No. 73 Chevrolet should have been in the winner’s circle after leading so many laps that’s how well things went throughout the afternoon.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener is set for March 27 with an April trip to Phoenix on the horizon. Lewis is hopeful for more opportunities to get behind the wheel of Midgley Motorsports Chevrolets in the near future, he added.
“We have talked about doing some more racing together and I believe we could be very successful if given the chance. Only time will tell what will transpire for the upcoming West Series races.”
The experiences of South Africa will live forever in the Lewis family’s lore of auto racing memories. One moment will resonate more strongly then others, according to the lead Longacre Racing Products salesperson.
“Honestly I would tell someone that the best part of the trip was being able to bring my 19-year old son Zach with me on this trip and giving him the experience of a lifetime,” Lewis said. “I also was able to bring my girlfriend, parents and friends along and it was great my teammate (John Mickel) won the race. We got to take in a great race track with speed to match its size. Cape Town was wonderful and I have to say that ASA did an awesome job of organizing this race and I hope they will have me back to do this again next year.”
To make the entire experience come together for a top-10 finish is owed to many racing and business supporters, Lewis added.
“I have to thank Midgley Motorsports, The Sign Factory USA. ASA Racing, many of my friends that chipped in and do not want to be mentioned and of course Gary Lewis Racing LLC for making this trip possible.”
For more information on Gary Lewis Racing check out the teams website at www.garylewisracing.com or Gary Lewis Racing LLC on Facebook.