Super Late Model racing is stereotypically associated with the South and drivers like Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse.
But for the last two years, it’s been New Englander Derek Griffith who’s been on top of the division at the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna.
After locking up his second straight SLM title at the World Series, Griffith joined a very select group of drivers to win at least two straight championships at New Smyrna in that division since New Smyrna began hosting the event in 1968 (Pete Hamilton, Junior Hanley, Dick Trickle, Pete Orr).
The week was a dominant one for Griffith. He picked up three wins and finished no worse than ninth in seven races, winning the title by 28 points over Ryan Moore.
From racing at Hudson Speedway in his hometown of Hudson, New Hampshire, Griffith has made it to the top over some of the best Late Model competition in the country.
“If you told me when I was 12 years old, when I was first starting off, that I even would be racing a Super Late Model, I’d have been like ‘Yeah, right. Whatever. Get out of here…’ I would never have projected myself to be in this position when I first started,” Griffith said.
In fact, Griffith’s career has gone nowhere but up the last couple of years. Driving the ARCA Menards Series in a part-time role with Chad Bryant Racing in 2020, Griffith picked up a pair of top fives and seven top-10 finishes in eight starts.
Only 24, Griffith’s stock has risen to the point where he’s one of the most sought-after Super Late Model drivers in the country. This past week, Griffith was being asked for advice on finding speed by young local drivers.
“It’s funny. I’m considered, like, an old guy now,” he said. “I’ve had some of the kids [in Florida] asking me questions, talking to me about stuff.”
Something Griffith has always been proud of has been that he’s very much a part of doing work on his cars. “The hard way,” as he calls it, began when he was a teenager, racing at his hometown track and it adds a bit more satisfaction each time he gets to Victory Lane.
“It’s a fulfillment level I can’t put into words,” Griffith says. “We’re just some little team from New Hampshire. It’s crazy to think that just because we’ve hustled, and put our time in, that it’s earned us the spot that we’re at right now.”
This year, Griffith has plans to run more ARCA races, along with short track events across the Northeast. Despite all the success and all the accolades that have gone his way to this point in his career, Griffith makes sure not to let the winning go to his head.
“I like to try to stay as humble as I possibly can,” Griffith says. “It’s so important for me to kind of keep my head in check and make sure I’m not overstepping where I think I need to be.”
“I’m always going to remember myself as that kid at Hudson Speedway that ran a Volkswagen Golf GTI for some fun on the weekends.”
With that in mind, Griffith continues winning—hopefully, with plenty more to come in 2021.