“THE SHORT COOL ONE”
By LuvRacinBruce Koen
Oakwood, Illinois is adding the name of an up and coming Late Model Champion to the honor rolls of its city. Bobby Pierce, son of hall of inductee Bob “The Tall Cool One” Pierce, is making his presence known throughout racing’s Late Model community. He caught the attention of this writer at the 35th Winter Nationals held at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida in February, 2011.
“Yeah,” you might say. “He’s just a kid.” It’s true there are not a lot of years on his young body. However, the “proof is in the pudding.” There should never be an “age barrier” that would possibly hamper talent. For some drivers, the honing of talent should take place long before being exposed to competition in what is usually a “big-boys” game. In Bobby’s case, this has already taken place. Yet, for some, there will be critics of age, versus talent, versus the competition, and any excuse for being “beat by a kid.” At only fourteen years of age, Bobby is showing the racing community that he’s got that talent and he is the real thing.
The “Tall Cool One” giving last minute advice to the “Short Cool One.”
Young Bobby Pierce has always been around racing because of his dad, Bob. As a little tyke, he was in the pits with mom, dad, and sister Ciara. Traveling from track to track, youngster Bobby was eventually put in charge of scraping mud off of dad’s racecar. It was his first real job at the racetrack which eventually led to greater responsibilities. During this time as a growing lad, Bobby got a first class education as he watched, and studied, and learned as he helped “The Tall Cool One” literally race his way into the Late Model Hall of Fame. The most exiting part for young Bobby was of being with his dad in victory lane. As a young boy, the sights and sounds seemed to be placing an attraction and invitation on his life.
In 2005, Bob removed himself from the drivers seat, to prepare young Bobby as a racer. Beginning with the‘05 racing season, Bobby got his first ride in a quarter midget. At eight years old, Bobby’s first race revealed the talent that was inside him. After a great start, Bobby wound up bumping a caution pole making his car spin in the early laps of the race. Consequently, he was placed at the back of the field for bringing out the caution flag. Of all the things that may have happened, Bobby became so angry with himself, he quickly began passing his competitors to come home with a third place finish. I asked him what he had to say about the incident, and he replied, “I refuse to lose.”
The quarter midgets appeared to be the right place for Bobby’s start in racing. Within the next few years of competition, Bobby had not only won his local track championship, but also went on to win a regional championship, and climaxing the year’s accomplishments with the 2007 Grand National Championship at Taylorville, IL Speedway.
Immediately after the Grand National Championship, Bobby left the quarter midget ranks and climbed behind the wheel of a “Kid-Modified.” Don’t let the name fool you. These are full size modified racecars, but restricted to a four-cylinder power plant. As a fledgling start to this class, there was not a very large field of these type cars, because they are specifically intended for younger (under 18 yrs. old) drivers to polish their abilities to handle a full size racecar. For Bobby, it meant increasing his race speed from 30 mph to 60 mph around the racetrack. The ’08 season was a time of “growing lessons” for Bobby and the others in his class. However, once again, Bobby came out on top of the competition with another track championship at the end of the season.
Feeling confident that he was able to handle the size and the speed, Bob knew it was time to increase the horsepower. At twelve years old, Bobby climbed behind the wheel of a Crate Late Model. In his first Crate race at Vermillion County Speedway, Bobby requested to start at the rear of the field, knowing that as a rookie, there was the possibility he could impede the forward progress of his other competitors. Much to everyone’s surprise Bobby worked his way through the field to be in third. That was not the purpose of the race and soon took over the second spot. Momentum shot him into the lead for a short period, only to find a slower car in his path. The famous racer’s question came, “Do I go high or should I go low?” As Bobby slowed for a split second to ponder his options, the choice was made for him as he was passed. He finished second in that inaugural feature race. Coincidence, or beginners luck you may ask? Not likely. The balance of the season Bobby was in the top three of every race entered. That left him with the record of seven feature wins, 14th in National points, and 7th in the Illinois 2008 Points Race.
The second season in the Crate Late Model, Bobby seemed to pick up right where he had left off. Regardless of his starting position, Bobby knew how to get to the front. By the close of the 2009 season he had won 16 Feature races! He completely sewed up the Illinois Points Championship, and came in second in National points, making him only 19 points out from the top spot. Not too bad for a twelve year old that is, no doubt, on his way to the top.
The 2010 season saw Bobby getting into a full fledge Late Model. Although we all know the competition in this division is nothing less than ferocious, Bobby still turned in his first win at Kokomo, Indiana. Then taking a large step, Bobby entered his first World of Outlaws Late Model race in Lincoln, Illinois. Things did not go his way in the heat race. The ‘consi’ (consolation race) was his only chance of making the feature. Bobby made some progress in the race getting him solidly into third. However, only the top two would transfer to the feature. This set up a turn four race to the flag, with Bobby coming out on top right at the line, thereby transferring him into the Main Event. Bobby finished a respectable18th against the nations finest that night. The major point here is, he finished. And as we all know, many racers have had the misfortune of starting and yet not finishing the race.
This year (2011) we saw Bobby racing several times with the Lucas Oil Series, as well as making 40 feature races with the “UMP Summer National Series.” Out of the 40 starts Bobby stacked up an amazing 20 top-five finishes and took home two feature wins at Peoria, two wins at Farmer city and the fifth feature at Kankakee.
What can we expect from this young man that has the motto: “I Refuse To Lose?” Winning results. Nothing but our best to you, Bobby. I’m sure we’ll be seeing “The Short Cool One” in the Winners Circle for years to come!