CONROE, Texas — Despite the continual barrage of high-dollar Factory Stock races we see each year, the fact remains that Limited Modifieds are once again a red-hot division. The cars are fast, racy and not nearly as expensive to run as the ground-pounding Modifieds, and talent lurks around every corner.
For 27-year-old former asphalt racer Alex Hickham, this ultra-competitive arena is his playground. In 11 starts thus far in 2022, he's reeled off five wins, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Only a rare engine failure last Saturday night at Kennedale has slowed his roll, and there are more wins coming.
“I've been extremely blessed to be part of a good program,” Hickham said. “We've got these brand new Generation Race Car chassis absolutely rolling this year. We've been fortunate to keep our momentum going all season; we've really only had a couple of bad races and the rest have been wins or podiums.
“I have no complaints at all this year. The chassis program has been great, we're also getting things figured out with our shock program. We've been working on that for a couple of years now, and I think we're getting really close. We've had some great runs, even charging from the back into the top five.”
Never ones to rest on their laurels, Hickham, car owner Justin Long and crew are always working hard.
“We've been fortunate to stay one step ahead of the competition this year. We've made some changes to the race car in the past couple of weeks, and man, I couldn't believe it, but the thing got even better. So we're firing on all cylinders, and it feels great. If we keep this up, we'll finish out the year very strong.”
Hickham started out very young, working his way up the ladder on asphalt long before racing on dirt.
“I started racing when I was four years old,” he explained. “My first car was a Quarter-Midget on an asphalt oval. I actually raced on the pavement right up until I was about 16 or 17 years old. Asphalt is what I grew up around, so I've really only been racing on dirt for about 10 years now.
“Between Texas, North Carolina, out to Las Vegas and all the way up to Minnesota, I spent years racing my way around the map. I spent a summer in Charlotte, NC, racing a Legends car against a lot of the same guys that are in NASCAR now. So that forced me to get focused and work that much harder.”
As mentioned earlier, the level of competition, especially in North Texas, is about as high as it gets.
“Despite the success we're having this year, it's never easy to run up front in this division,” Hickham said. “At the tracks we're running on, we're competing against the very best. We're trying to establish a successful chassis program and sell race cars.
“To do that, we need to be on the right stage competing against top teams. So when you're talking about a field of 30-plus cars showing up every week, there are probably a dozen guys who can win on any given night. That forces you to work hard to constantly improve, and we feel like we're doing that.”
When Hickham climbs into that fine House Car from Generation Race Cars, he trusts it completely.
“This thing is one of the best-built and nicest driving race cars I've ever driven,” he said. “Jason Hunter builds these chassis for my car owner, and he does high-end work. The fit and finish on every GRC is amazing; they are lightweight yet strong enough to take the abuse. I'm so blessed to drive this race car.”
As for horsepower, Hickham says his team has the right man building their power-plants.
“We went to Kennedale just to shake the car down for the upcoming Nationals on September 10. Two laps into the Heat race, the engine decided to throw a rod out through the pan. Yet we understood; that motor had been running strong all year and they just don't last forever. So we had to sit the night out.
“We already have a new engine being built, and we'll be back stronger than ever. We've had excellent luck working with our engine builder, Russ Fletcher. He does a great job for us, and it was just our time on that engine. The first thing he said was not to worry; he'd have us another engine this week.”
Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel and top-notch race car, Hickham also has several key people and sponsors who keep his program on-track and successful.
“I need to thank JL Racing and Generation Race Cars; Fletcher Custom Race Engines, Andy's Sprinkler and Drainage; MyAutoLoan.com; 777 Graphics, CRS Suspension, Abilene Powdercoating and Abilene Race Rads. I appreciate their support and couldn't do this without them.”
With most of the weekly racing done for this year and those big Fall specials on the horizon, Hickham knows what he wants to accomplish before all is said and done.
“Over the years, we've seen several very cool big-money races for our cars in the Fall,” he concluded. “I'd love to pay my race team back for their hard work this year by winning one of those shows. I think we have what it takes right now to do that.
“I want to win either the Nationals at KSP, or the big show at Southern Oklahoma Speedway. To win a big show at the end of this season would be huge, so that's my main goal for the balance of 2022.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Mike Frieri