BLANCHARD, Louisiana — No matter who sits behind the wheel, who turns the wrenches or who pays the bills, every race team since the sport's inception has taken a while to figure out a new car. They don't just automatically dial themselves into perfection by running them a few times.
For 30-year-old second generation driver Coty Tupper, the second half of 2023 is when he began to get his figured out. Overall, he earned six wins (all in big races), 18 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes in 50 starts. With wins at Boothill (3), Hunt County (2), and Ark-La-Tex (1), it truly was a year to treasure.
“Earlier this year they announced they were letting the B Mods run with the Limiteds around here,” Tupper said. “I made the decision to purchase one, and jumped right into it this year. Unfortunately, we struggled a lot at the beginning of the year.
“Through about mid-July, we had 15 or 16 races we didn't finish. We were really struggling to learn the car. But in the second half, we started to pick up on a few things. Once we started to dial in the setup a little bit, we quickly turned the corner. But we're still learning more and more every time out.”
Like so many other drivers his age, Tupper was originally brought into the sport by his racing father.
“My Dad started racing back in 2005,” he explained. “I got my start in 2015 when I bought an Outlaw chassis Factory Stock. We were able to run six or seven races at the end of that year, and I was actually able to win at Boothill with it the weekend of the Louisiana State Championship in my second start.
“We had a little success early on in Factory Stock, but I quickly learned my pockets weren't deep enough to hang with the big boys. So I decided to sell that car and move into a Limited Modified. That's what my Dad was racing, and my cousin, Jeff Dykes, ran an IMCA Modified back in the day.”
It's often a family member that influences young aspiring racers, and Tupper is no different.
“I grew up watching my cousin race, and always felt open-wheel racing was cool. So we jumped into the Limiteds. We had a little luck with one or two wins, but I sold my first car and bought a different one. I didn't like it, either, so I sold it and bought yet another car.
“I was just trying to figure out what I liked in a car. No racer likes losing, I wanted to run up front. So I went through a few cars at first, then picked up an IRP chassis a couple years ago from Dennie Gieber. We were able to pick up several wins with that car, even a USRA Nationals win at RPM Speedway.”
From there, Tupper fell off the radar for a couple of seasons. Fast, just not very consistent.
“We had a couple wins here and there in 2021 and 2022, but it never all came together for us like it did in the second half of this season. So now, in my eighth year of racing and first year in a B Mod, I'm finally winning big races and considered a top contender. It feels good to be making some progress.”
Thanks to where he lives, Tupper faces some incredibly stiff competition in the world of Limited Mods.
“My hometown track is Boothill, and when you have to run against guys like Derick Grigsby, you have your work cut out for you. Especially on a hammer-down track, like we raced on last weekend. The guys I race against down here all all fast, every time out. We have some of the nation's top racers here.”
When Tupper puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he straps into a very well-crafted machine.
“I have a 2021 Rage chassis here in my shop,” he explained. “It's an excellent car and suits me very well. It was built up in Iowa, and I really love it now that we're learning what it needs for a setup. As for power, we went with a motor from Chuck Priestly at BEST Engines. It's been strong all year long.”
Along with his eight years of experience and top-notch car, Tupper has plenty of support in his corner.
“I'd like to give a special thanks to Abatix Industrial Equipment & Supplies for their years of support,” he said. “If not for them, I would not be racing at this level or running so strong. I also need to thank Cliff's Welding Service and Lube-Tech for their support. I appreciate what they do for this team.
“I also have a great support system behind me. My lovely wife Gabby and one-year-old son Coe are at the track just about every weekend cheering me on. My Dad, Cliff Tupper, and cousin Austin Foy are there helping me turn wrenches most weekends. We're a small race team, but try to make a big impact.”
While some teams have a couple of races left to run this year, Tupper says he's had enough.
“I had thought at first we may run one or two more, but decided against it,” he explained. “We're going to end it on a high note; we'll go ahead and get the car torn down and start the process of preparing it for 2024. I'm not quite sure what we'll do in 2024, but I think we'll target the big money races again.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Scott Burson