LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — Since it was first launched back in 2005, Express RaceCars has been building top-notch winning machines for drivers all over the Deep South. The owner and his father founded the company, and have since gained a sizable market share with fast cars and great service.
For 43-year-old Shane Hebert, building Limited Modifieds has become a way of life. Yet when he has time to go racing himself, he's a skilled wheel-man. This year, he ran his Crate Late Model several times, and got up on the wheel against some stiff competition.
Hebert earned three wins and 13 top-five finishes in 20 starts this year, including a $2,000 payday last Saturday night at I-37 in Round 2 of the new All-Star Crate Late Model Series. He cites a number of factors responsible for his successful 2022 campaign.
“For the last year and a half, we've been concentrating on the Late Model program,” Hebert said. “I was running a Big Block Mod a little bit around here last year, then we sold it. I was racing for Brandon Hightower. We ran a Crate Late Model last year ,and won nine out of 11 races with it.
“This year, we started out running Open Motor races in the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series at Boothill the beginning of the year. We went to Cotton Bowl and ran a couple of nights, earning a fourth and fifth-place finish. We put a Crate Motor back in it this fall, and it just suits my style.”
That big win at I-37 surprised a lot of those on hand and watching Live at RaceOnTexas.com.
“I started on the outside of the front row, but hit the berm on lap two or three and flew off the track,” Hebert explained. “I thought for sure my night was done. It took me a little while to figure out where I was, then I got back on the track.
“I saw a car behind the pack, as if he'd had a problem, as well. I thought I'd hang back a minute to see what happened, and sure enough, I got my spot back since the other guy actually spun and brought out the caution. He had spun out before I flew off the corner, so I got lucky there.”
He wasn't quite in contention yet; he had to form a plan and execute it to land in Victory Lane.
“On that last restart, I was in third place,” he said still proud of his efforts. “I knew the top was quick, but I also knew I wasn't going to be able to pass them where they already were running. So I decided to hug the tires and see if we could make some progress forward. I found some traction and pulled it off.”
Now concluding his 26th year of racing, Hebert is an accomplished veteran with nothing left to prove.
“I started out driving a Modified back in 1996,” he explained. “Then I kind of converted over to driving Limiteds once I started building them. We ran Limiteds and a Modified together for a while, then as this region got away from Modifieds, we got us a Super Late Model in 2013.
“We started running that around Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. We did that for three years, then it kind of dwindled down. We got back into racing Limiteds hard from like, 2015 or 2016, right up until now. Although I didn't run much this year; I let my son run the car we have now.”
His company is synonymous with success in Limited Modified racing, and has been for years.
“So it was back in 2003 or 2004 when the Limited Modifieds were first getting popular in our region,” he explained. “We were running our Mods, USMTS and stuff, going all over the country at the time. I told my Dad one day I thought we could build one of those.
“So based on that hunch, we went in the back of the shop one day and started putting one together. And low and behold, I think we won the first race we entered. I never even intended this company to be what it has become today. I'm proud of the success our cars have enjoyed, thanks to some talented guys who've bought them. We've been blessed with great customers over the years.”
The concept of building race cars for others never struck him, but is sure panned out well.
“We built that first Limited to have fun, go run a few shows on the side of our Mod program, maybe even win a little money at it. The next thing I know, we're winning with that car and people start asking me to build one for them. Now, we've built 218 of them since we launched in 2005. It's been good.”
As for the mighty Late Model he drives, it has a unique story and is a very top-notch race car, as well.
“This car is a 2020 Rocket chassis that originally came from Brandon Hightower,” Hebert said. “It never had that many races on it, so it's still in mint shape. He got out of it after he broke his back racing out east. It's a top-notch car, and is powered by a motor from Brown's Engineering out of Mississippi.
“I purchased the car from Brandon about three months ago. This combination works well.”
Along with a top-notch race car and years of experience behind the wheel to draw from, Hebert also has several companies on board that make his program more competitive.
“I want to thank Joey Brown Plumbing, Cajun Pools & Spas, Joel's Auto Sales, B&D MotorSports, Donna's Attic, AKA Construction, Advanced Environmental, Stop Tech Brakes, Fast Graphix, Rocket Chassis, APE Engines, Puremax, Browns Engineering, Tri-Maxx Industries and Express RaceCars.”
As the fall 'Big Show' season quickly draws to a close, Hebert has but two events left to run before he calls it a year. He still has momentum on his side, and will no doubt be competitive at both shows.
“We're planning to run The Clash at Texana on Nov. 18-19, then the Shootout in Corpus on Dec. 8-9 to run the Limited and the Late Model,” Hebert said. “Next year, we'll focus on the Crate car again. We may venture out and try to run a few of the bigger shows.
“I'm also building myself a new Limited Modified, so I'll have my own car for that class again. From there, I'll pretty much just wing it like I've done the last 26 years. I don't really run for points, I just look at the schedules and pick the races that look good. We're hoping for another strong year in 2023.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Jay Hallas