KAUFMAN, Texas — We see it every year; a young driver gets himself into a position where things start coming together. The car, the team, chassis setups and all the rest align just right and the wins start coming. It's exciting, and worth noting when he (or she) outguns stiff competition on a steady basis.
For 20-year-old open-wheel pilot Drew Pattat, the Eco Mod division has become his domain. This year, he attacked several tracks and made big progress, earning an impressive eight wins, 16 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. With ample momentum in his pocket, he's excited — and rightfully so.
“I think a big part of it this year is the car, we've had good luck with it all season,” Pattat said. “It seems like luck is a big part of this sport, you need it on your side and we've had that in 2023. Everything has just been kind of going our way, I guess you could say. We work hard for it, but luck sure helps a lot.”
This year, Pattat competed at tracks like Rocket Raceway Park, Kennedale Speedway, Hunt County Raceway in Greenville and at Southern Oklahoma Speedway. He continues to soak up knowledge.
“It definitely helps my learning curve to run at a few different tracks,” he said. “It forces you to adapt your driving and setup for a specific track, plus you can learn from the fast guys. I'd say of the places we've run in 2023, Rocket Raceway is my favorite. I like Hunt County, as well, but Rocket is special.”
Now in his eighth year of oval racing, Pattat has driven a variety of cars and paid dues along the way.
“My Dad raced for a while back in his day,” he explained. “He used to run Stocks Cars, Street Stocks and a few other different classes. So he's the one who got me into it. I started out in the Junior Limiteds and ran there for maybe a year or so, not very long. Just enough to figure out the basics of racing.
“Then I got a Factory Stock, and ran that car for four of five years. After that stint, we got this Eco Mod we're running today. I enjoyed driving the Factory Stock when we had that, as well; I just didn't have very good luck in it. I wanted to try something different, so we made the move to open-wheel racing.”
If you've watched a few Live events on our network this year, I'll wager you've seen the Eco Mods in action. It's an ideal stepping stone for racers headed to Sport Mods, and right now it's full of big talent.
“I'd say the level of competition is as high as it's ever been in Eco Mods,” Pattat said. “We're hoping to make the move up to SportMods next year, and this has been an ideal training ground. With all of the experienced guys in this Eco Mod deal right now, it prepares you for a faster-paced, more fierce level.
“I feel like we've learned a ton in this class, and hope it propels us on to the challenges ahead.”
When Pattat puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he straps into a well-built machine.
“I drive a 2017 Western Flyer chassis, and it's a really nice car,” he said. “As for horsepower, we run a motor from Knowles Performance Engines out of Oklahoma. It's a strong combination of chassis and engine; the car reacts to adjustments as it should, and this motor has been super reliable. I love it.”
Along with his finely-honed driving skills and top-notch car, Pattat also has his loyal supporters.
“I need to thank all the great folks who support me, including DXP Construction; J&G Services, Powder Coat Plus, Versatile Properties, Western Flyer Race Cars, Dark Horse Racing Shocks, Knowles Performance Engines; and my buddy, Chato, for helping me keep this car dialed in week-to-week.”
With a handful of races left to run in North Texas and Oklahoma, Pattat has a goal in mind.
“We plan on running the few shows they have left on their schedule at Rocket Raceway,” he concluded. “We'll finish the year out at Hunt county Raceway in Greenville, and we'll probably head back up to Ardmore and run their big shows this Fall.
“We may even test the waters of SportMod racing and get our feet wet in that before we dive in full bore next year. Regardless, it's been an amazing season and I am truly grateful for the opportunities. I never take any success for granted. I appreciate those who help, and will continue to study this sport.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Dalton Warren-Brierton