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Late Model Engine Builder Penalized, Placed on Probation after Snowball Derby Teardown

Donnie Wilson Motorsports

A Super Late Model engine builder has been penalized following a dyno and teardown process that took place within the weeks following the Snowball Derby.

Upchurch Performance has been fined and placed on indefinite probation for improprieties discovered in the Southern Super Series Parts Engine pulled from the Donnie Wilson Motorsports No. 26 driven by Chandler Smith in December at Five Flags Speedway.

The penalties were announced by Sealed Engines Alliance Leader representative Ricky Brooks on late Sunday night. A memo sent to the industry via email encouraged all Upchurch Performance customers to “check with the engine builder to verify specifications are within guidelines.”

The exact infraction was not detailed by either party. Donnie Wilson Motorsports or Chandler Smith were not penalized in any fashion.

The release also made the following declaration:

“The change in status for Upchurch Performance comes as a result of engine inspections of their SSPE engine. The inspections revealed infractions where the builder significantly deviated from the guidelines established for engine builders.”

During the Snowball Derby technical inspection process, Brooks pulled the race winning McGunegill Engine Performance power plant from Ty Majeski’s No. 91 entry and Upchurch piece from the No. 26. The Peters Racing Engine inside the Campbell Motorsports (Derek Thorn) No. 43 and the RW Racing Engine inside the Phoenix Racing No. 9 (Chase Elliott) were not pulled for dyno inspection.

The Upchurch and MEP engines were sent to RW Racing Engines for the additional inspection — worth noting as a rival competitor is not an independent arbiter. The MEP SSPE engine was found to be in compliance with SEAL regulations.

SEAL was founded in 2008 by the various regional Late Model promoters to oversee the sealed engine programs used in Pro Late Model and Super Late Model competition with the goal of creating competitive parity and cost containment.

The Southern Super Parts Engine is not a sealed engine by definition as its created from components that anyone could hypothetically build. However, the Parts Engine program is also overseen by SEAL.

When contacted via phone on Wednesday, Jeremy Upchurch says he will not formally protest the penalty.

“We pushed the boundary on our engines,” Upchurch told Short Track Scene. “That’s what our customers expect of us. We pushed them and probably pushed a little too far.

“We accept the penalty and intend not to find ourselves in that area again. I pride myself on meeting that standard and that’s what I will continue to do.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.



  1. Agni Howell

    January 11, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    What was it specifically ?

  2. Matt Weaver

    January 11, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    “The exact infraction was not detailed by either party.”

  3. Todd

    January 11, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    I knew pro late models ran sealed crate engines but thought super late models run “open” engines just like dirt slm engines. All kinds of confused now.

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