Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, California)
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (March 9, 2022)………It was just a few short years ago that Mitchel Moles hung up the racing helmet and suit to go full-time bass fishing.
Just few years later, with the fishing line reeled in and the worms in the tackle box, the 22-year-old driver is now going full-time with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship in 2022 for CB Industries.
Moles, the Raisin City, California native who now resides in Oklahoma with Gene and Dennis Gile and builds an array of racecars for a living by day, currently resides fifth in the standings as the top series Rookie in the sixth position following finishes of 10th and 5th in his first two outings of the year in February at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park.
Getting to go full-time USAC National Midget racing is a sweet deal in itself but securing the opportunity to do it with the same team (and car number) that Chris Windom won the 2020 series with, has Moles grinning, knowing he’s in good hands moving forward.
“I think (team owner) Chad (Boat) and (crew chief) Grant (Penn) run a really great operation,” Moles said. “I can’t thank those guys enough for giving me a shot and we’ll see what we can do coming up here this season.”
Moles began his racing career like so many others, racking up wins in quarter midgets before moving onto Restricted 600 and Non-Wing Micro Sprints in his native California. A half-decade foray into the world of fishing came next during his teenage years as he competed with the Fishing League Worldwide Pro Series and in local tournaments.
“I was all-in, fishing five days a week, every day,” Moles explained. “I fished on the weekends for money, then went fishing during the week with the money I made on the weekends.”
At times, though, when the summers in California became a bit too toasty, the fishing activities slowed down. Moles found himself at the racetrack one summer day and met a friend and past crew chief who offered him an opportunity to jump back into the seat. A few races later, Moles was already back in victory lane and the professional fishing career was officially put on hold and his racing career resumed.
While racing his father’s winged Sprintcar and competing in Micro Sprints – he won the Tulsa Shootout Winged Outlaw feature in 2021 – Moles also found work as a crew member for Matt Wood Racing. It was there where Wood made him an offer he just couldn’t refuse, which involved eating a thick Australian food spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives.
“Matt had some Vegemite, and he said, ‘if you eat this vegemite, I’ll give you a Midget ride.’ I’m like, ‘all right.’ It might’ve not been worth it. It’s pretty bad.”
The bite of Vegemite kickstarted a Midget racing career that led to early success with a USAC Western States Midget victory in April of 2021 at Hanford, California’s Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds. When Wood decided to enter Moles into a few USAC National Midget shows, there was one instance that gave Moles the confidence that he could run up front with the big dogs.
“When I drove by Chris Windom on the bottom at Huset’s coming to the chequered flag, I kind of figured, ‘man, I think this is something I can actually do.’”
It could’ve easily resulted in victory as he charged from fourth to first on the final restart, past Shane Golobic, Thomas Meseraull and Windom in turn three just as the yellow came out for an incident back in the pack, resulting in a revert to the last completed lap and Moles being moved back to fourth for the ensuing restart.
He caught the eye of many with that performance, then opened the nation’s eyes even more as he powered past Kyle Larson to score a career-best third-place finish in November’s Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura (California) Raceway, which earned him Don Basile Rookie of the Race honors.
Considering his knack as a quick study and the success he’s already accumulated thus far, combined with competing for a championship caliber team has given him high expectations, although it’s still the same he’s always expected from himself every time he’s ever strapped into a racecar.
“My expectations are the same anywhere I go, no matter where I go,” Moles said. “Second is unacceptable. Sixth through tenth is its own league. Second through fifth is its own league. But there’s nothing like winning.”
Moles will pilot his CB Industries/PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall – NOS Energy Drink/Spike/Speedway Toyota throughout 2022, and in this weekend’s sixth running of the Shamrock Classic presented by Dooling Machine Products indoors at Du Quoin’s Southern Illinois Center on March 11-12.
The Shamrock Classic encompasses back-to-back evenings of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget racing with two complete programs across two nights with a 40-lap, $2,000-to-win midget feature on Friday night and culminating with Saturday’s $10,000-to-win, 50-lap A-Main.
Both races are considered non-points special events for the USAC Midgets, meaning zero points will be awarded toward the national championship as the field vies for the pot of gold trophy and the checks.
On Friday, March 11, the building opens at Noon Central time with the stands opening at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5pm, with cars on track at 5:30.
On Saturday, March 12, the building opens at 8am Central time with the stands opening at 11am. The micro sprint drivers meeting will take place Noon, with micros on track for hot laps and heat races at 12:30. The midget drivers meeting starts at 3pm, followed by hot laps and racing at 4pm.