I recently had the pleasure of grabbing a bite to eat with a crowd favorite, Mack Little. And as always, “Spudman” wasn’t at a loss of words.

Corey Latham(CL): So whats going on Mr. Mack Little?

Mack Little(ML): Nothing much, just working and getting the race car ready.

CL: Is it the same car you had last year?

ML: Yeah, it’s a Hedgecock car, and I just hung a new Impala body on it. Just did it in the garage a few weeks ago.

CL: So where are you running this year?

ML: We’re gonna start out down in Asheboro running, at least the first 2 races. If things go well we’ll run for the championship. If something happens in the first 2 races, I’ve thought hard about running Orange County for the season. I’m gonna be running the big races this year more, I’ll be at Hickory for the Fall Brawl, I’ve got a lot of fans down there and I need to get down there more. And of course I’ll be at Martinsville ready to go this year, having the engine let go last year in practice really hurt us.

CL: What about the UARA race at Hickory, your awfully good there?

ML: Well, you never know, we’ll see. I really don’t have a motor for that. I’ve got a couple of crates, I think I’d need the 390 on the built motor to run that. You never know though, no telling where I’ll be, maybe I’ll even get to South Boston a few times, it all just depends on how the year

folds out. You know we only got one car, so it’s hard to tell.

CL: Yeah I know, and you don’t have many people helping you like other LMSC teams around.

ML: Not at all. Basically it’s just me and dad for the most part. We’ve got a couple of guys that come and help out, but we need help any time we can get it. You know, with the economy the way it is, we were really hurting coming into this year. Blowing the motor at Martinsville, then I lost a crate just a few weeks later, we had a string of bad luck heading into this year. We were able to sell our Late-Model truck, and I kept the motor out of that just to finish the season. But we regrouped this winter, and I’ve got 2 built motors coming and we’ll be ready.

As far as a major sponsor backing us, we don’t have that. Some teams have $15,000-$20,000 worth of sponsorship on the side of the car. We still got Walkertown Seafood Shack, and our newest edition this year, Big Buck Buggies, and they help out tremendously. But one of our sponsors from last year has went out of business, and another just doesn’t have the work right now. People think because you have something on the side of the car your getting big bucks, but a lot of my sponsors sponsor me with their products. The main sponsor I have is my dad. Without him I wouldn’t race at all, maybe a race or so, but they would be few and far between.

CL: With the way LMSC racing has gotten, it’s getting tougher for guys like you, the price to race is getting to be out of control for these cars..

ML: Oh yeah, your right, the prices are getting ridiculous. That’s why I like the crate motor, a lot of people don’t like them, but they just don’t realize. I’ve heard other people say “I can’t run good with a crate”.. Well that’s wrong, because I’ve run good with a built and run good with the crate just the same. To a guy like me, looking at the crate motor for $6,000, or a built motor for $20,000, it’s easy to see where I’m going. I’ve got builts, but I put them together myself. LP engines does my motors and they do a good job with my builds.

CL: You pretty much have done all the work on your car yourself in the backyard, right?

ML: When I got that car it was a bare chassis. I hung the body, I mean every bolt on that car, I put it on. I get the engines machined, and I put them together, so basically everything is “in house”. I mean it’s hard, somebody said the other day, “Get you some shocks and you’ll run better”. That’s great, but I can’t afford to run out and buy a $1500 set of shocks. I’m the shock builder, driver, mechanic, all that, I just can’t afford to run out and buy the best there is at that time. Instead of buying the best, we learn how to do it ourselves, and the results show that we are doing something right.

CL: That’s exactly right. Your not running in the back and your winning races. How gratifying is it to come to the track against the big-money teams with the nice equipment and toter-homes, and put them all behind you by the end of the race?

ML: You know, last year I started the season off at Hickory and when I left there I was second in points. Then I went to ACE, and the second week there led the first 15 laps after qualifying on the outside front row. They knew we were there, Rodney Cook told everybody when we rolled through the gate “That boy’s gonna be good”. It really is gratifying when the fans cheer for you, and to know we did it on our own, But it’s really nice when your peers respect you because they know you are somebody they are gonna have to beat.  We would have raced at ACE more but the whole Friday night thing with me and daddy working made it impossible. Then we went down to Asheboro and got our first win, and that was really special.

CL: The first is always special, tell us about that.

ML: Well, we had went down there and I ran second like 3 weeks in a row, then qualified on the pole and I was gone, there was no stopping me. Then we took the lead the next week, got dumped, finished 4th, and came back the next week and won again. I mean, Late-Model racing is hard. It’s all been tough everywhere I’ve been. From Bowman Gray to Hickory, anywhere, I’ve been against stiff competition. It’s just easier once you’ve done it (winning), you’ve already been there. And I’ve won at several different tracks, and that means a lot too. When I won my first Late-Model race last year, I think Motor Mile had gotten rained out, and there were some big names there. It was fan appreciation night and in victory lane there were so many kids around the car you couldn’t even see it. To look around at my competition, the fans there, just to soak it all in was really special.

CL: Even though you are handling the competition nicely, is there anything that local tracks could do to help a racer like yourself without taking away from the bigger teams money wise?

ML: Sure. Jason York told me the other day, “Nobody clocks you in practice because you are on junk tires”. That’s because I have to. We come to the track for practice on junk tires, and we have figured out how to adjust to compensate for when we put stickers on that weekend. I wish the tracks would make a rule for when you get there on race day, you only get one set of tires. You don’t get a set to see where your car is. Instead of letting them change gears, change oil, do stuff to the motor, and hoping them up to qualify, make them qualify on what they gotta race on. It would make better racers, and a lot of the time I see cars qualify on the front row, and in 10 laps they going to the back. That’s all they work on is qualifying. I just think little stuff like that would save money for everyone, make better racers and make for better racing during the event.

CL: Well Mack, we all hope for the best for you in 09′, and we’ll keep track of how your doing throughout the year.

ML: I hope I get to talk to y’all all the time, for all the right reasons.

CL: I don’t doubt that you won’t, that’s for sure.