The quintessential keys to racing include being a good driver, having a good handling racecar, and winning races. Though in the midst of all that, there’s something that can be lost – respect.
It’s a thought that hasn’t been lost on the mind of Jordan Latimer as he comes off of the heels of a successful rookie campaign at Sunset Speedway.
“Respect is more important than the racing itself,” he stated at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Show.
While there have been teenagers that have entered the sport and tried to set the world on fire right from the start, Latimer has played the game more cautiously. Each of the late model races last season, he raced fairly and cleanly with the veterans, looking to gain their respect with each lap.
“I’m a rookie and I’m learning how everyone else is driving,” he commented. “So you need to gain respect for everybody else and race them not how you’ll race them in the future, but learn how they’re driving and give them the right away once in a while because you’re the new kid in the block.
“You need to show them that you’re not some kid coming in that doesn’t know how to drive. You need to race them the way you want to be raced, kind of deal.”
Latimer feels the approach worked as he says if he would’ve went on and tried to set the world on fire from the start, then the veterans would “just think I’m some kid coming into this class and won’t have that. They’ll just move me out of the way.”
Though taking the approach that he took, he feels it brings forth the ability to be raced more fairly, which was seen during the second half of the season. As they got used to racing him and he got stronger as a driver behind the wheel, the finishes came and he was able to post three top-five finishes before the year closed out.
It’s reasonable to understand the time it took Latimer to come into his own, as last year brought not only a new division but a new track. Latimer made the switch to Sunset Speedway’s Limited Late Model division last year after running a thunder car at Barrie Speedway the year before.
The original plan was to run the late model at Barrie Speedway ,though of course those plans got changed when the speedway announced it was closing.
“We were going to go Late Model at Barrie, but that was before we knew they were shutting down,” he stated. “We never knew anything about it. We were in a thunder car at Barrie so we were going to go late model just to get our feet wet because there wasn’t big fields, or all the top guys at Barrie, like Sunset.
“Once we figured out Barrie was closing and everyone was going to Sunset, we had second thoughts about everything.”
Those second thoughts quickly disappeared, though, as Latimer stated that being able to race against the best of the best was better in building his career.
“I feel like it has helped me grow as a driver than if I would’ve stayed at Barrie and it would’ve kept going,” he commented. “There was a lot of good drivers at Barrie, but they’re all in one spot now at Sunset and the field is so stacked, it’s almost unbelievable that I can run in the top-five, top-10 on most nights, and be racing with guys like Tommy who was in the sport before I was even born.”
It turned out to be successful as he posted a few solid top-15 finishes to start the year, before turning up the heat during the second half of the season with three top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes. He would finish 13th in the final standings, though more importantly, picked up the Rookie of the Year Award at the year-end banquet.
He now returns to Sunset Speedway this year, looking for even more continued success.
“With the new rules including no tire doping, I think that this year is going to possible be one of the toughest and closest competition that any track has seen in a while,” he commented. “We are running the same car we had last year but are working on it over the off season, same as everybody else does. Clean the car up, new parts to replace some old ones, maybe some changes on it. But my head is in the game 100% this year.”