The plan for Chris Clyne at the beginning of the season was to just run the first three Super Late Model races at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
If he and his team were having fun after those three and leading the points, they’d run the next three. If they were still leading after those, and still having fun, they’d finish the season.
The first three races were definitely fun, as has the rest of the season. Clyne has won seven of eight races this season, and nine of the last 11 at The Bullring, a .375-mile asphalt oval. Clyne currently leads the track’s SLM championship standings by 53.
“I haven’t raced full time in a long, long time,” Clyne said. “We’ve been having fun and we’re leading the points so we’re going to keep going.”
With so much going on for Clyne, racing full time has been tough to pull off the last few years. But when he’s not behind the wheel, he’s helping others who are, mentoring two young drivers, coaching, and serving as a crew chief or spotter for other friends.
Clyne also runs a business that restores, buys, and sells antique, classic cars.
He’s also on the board of Speedway Children’s Charities, an organization that puts on eight to 10 events per year, all designed around cars and racing, that raise money for over 50 different children’s charities around Las Vegas.
Clyne is in charge of a car show with the charity, which has sold out the last two years. They also do a PJ 5K, where people run around the speedway in their pajamas, and have a laps for charity event, where Clyne drives the pace car and allows fans to follow him around the track.
“My first one I went two maybe about four or five years ago, they were giving the money out and you see the little kids with cancer and Down syndrome and different illnesses and you see how emotional they get and you see what it means to them,” Clyne said. “Knowing they know that money is going to help them feel better or live a better life, that really fired me up to want to get involved more. It’s really a special deal and I’m proud to be a part of that too.”
Even though Clyne’s many activities revolve around cars and racing, this year’s schedule at The Bullring allowed him the chance to focus on his own driving. While he’s never been a driver who’s gone out chasing championships, he and his crew have been having so much fun this year he figured they might as well keep going.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to get back full time, it was just we were having fun and we kept winning so why not keep going?” he said. “I’ve always wanted to just be a guy who wanted to just win big races and be the threat and this year we’ve just been having fun and been wining every weekend we show up.”
Clyne’s dad, Richie Clyne, founded the Bullring when the younger Clyne was just a kid. Since then, he’s been there every Saturday night. Clyne grew up his dad’s footsteps, getting into the antique car business like his father, and developing a love of short track racing from him too.
Given his history at the track, Clyne said winning a championship there would obviously be special. But a track title is about more than just himself.
“It would mean a lot to all my crew guys,” he said. “Because those guys, they work their 40-hour jobs and they get off and they come here for four or five hours a day. It’s a team deal. It means just as much to them, if not more to them than it would to me. It’s just special to everybody. To get to go to Charlotte and be up on the stage and represent Nevada. That would be the ultimate proud deal to get to represent our state.”
Seeing the joy wins bring Clyne’s team and sponsors is another reason they’ve kept going. He’s met so many people in the sport who have helped him since he was a kid himself.
“I’ve got so many stickers on my car from all my friends helping me. Helping me with parts, and knowledge, and information. It’s cool,” he said. “Over the years I’ve made so many friends from racing, if I have any questions on any parts of the car I can call a guy at 10 o’clock at night and they help me. That’s another thing that really helps with racing too is having good relationships and friendships.”
The Bullring will race one more time, on Wednesday, July 3, for the Night of Fire, featuring the NASCAR Super Late Model Spirit of ’76 feature, Super Stocks, Bombers, 602 Modifieds, USLCI Legends and Bandoleros. The track will then take an extended break to avoid the heat of the summer, and return for two more races in August, one in September, and one in October.
With the time off, Clyne said the key for keeping up the points lead the rest of the season is simply being smart.
“Bring the car home in one piece, and pick your battles,” he said. “I tell that to the kids I coach. It’s more important to bring a car home in fourth than try to crash it for third and then you’ve got to spend two weeks trying to rebuild it. Just pick your battles. July 3rd, if if think I can win I’ll take it, but I’m okay with second too.
“That’s the biggest thing with racing. The long races, the short traces, you’ve got to know when to go as hard as you can and when to be smart and take what you’ve got and bring it home and work on it for the next show.”
No matter what happens the rest of the season, Clyne and his team are all in.
“I’m just a car guy having fun and racing on Saturday nights,” he said. “That’s my passion. I’m just really grateful for all the people who help me.
“Short track racing is my love, it’s my passion. I’m 37 now so racing is not my number one thing in my life, but I sure do enjoy it.”