Mike Hopkins has not had a busy racing schedule in the past three seasons, but the Hermon, Maine Late Model driver has still managed to score a nice batch of accomplishments.
He caught everyone’s attention in 2019 winning the Pro All Stars Series National Championship with wins at Richmond Raceway and Seekonk Speedway. In the COVID shortened 2020 season, he took home a cool $10,000 at Jennerstown Speedway in the Motor Mountain Masters. Then most recently in 2021, he celebrated his first career American-Canadian Tour Late Model win at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Before the year is out, Hopkins and the No. 15 team have one last adventure left, as they pack their bags for Pensacola, Florida and Five Flags Speedway. The Pine Tree State squad will look to make the biggest Pro Late Model event of the year, the 23rd Snowflake 100 on Snowball Derby Weekend.
While most drivers nowadays attend a Derby weekend as a mechanic, spotter, or even a simple spectator; Hopkins will take his first steps on the Five Flags Speedway property in the coming days.
“I’ve never been there, I’ve watched a lot of races on Speed51, but I’ve never been to the facility. It’s going to be a new adventure. I wasn’t planning on going and then a friend came through with tire money and helping out. We got a brand-new car that we’re just finishing up, head down, and hope for the best. I’m leaving the day after Thanksgiving, we got the race track Saturday for testing. It’ll be busy, but should be a good time,” Hopkins told Racing America.
Despite the backing of Port City Racecars Northeast, and support from Gary Crooks; the lack of experience and a tight budget led to the decision to try for the Snowflake 100. Hopkins will also have the benefit of experience with running a crate engine which has become the powerplant of choice for Pro All Stars Series teams, and required for all regulation Pro Late Models across the land.
“Someday I’d love to race the Derby itself, but I didn’t want to spend the money right now to buy a big motor. Gary has one, but it isn’t up to par. This is the best way, I’m used to racing with a crate motor, so we might as well start out that way. Focus on figuring the place out.”
Hopkins is also heading south with the belief that Five Flags Speedway is a track that he can grow to like fast.
“Watching all those broadcasts and all the onboards; I’m not saying I have certain driving style, but it seems like a place that fits me in that you can just go all out, use a lot of gas, and drive it off. That’s the way l like to do it.”
It seems like a place that fits me in that you can just go all out, use a lot of gas, and drive it off. That’s the way l like to do it.
With a Pro Late Model entry list for Snowflake 100 bulging with talent that easily holds a candle to the Snowball Derby Super Late Model entries, the self-proclaimed ‘Maine Hillbilly’ is excited to have a chance to test his racing skills against such a field. He is also beyond thankful for everyone that is giving their support whether at the track or in the shop.
“The level of competition, the talent for the Snowflake is still the best you’re going to see in the whole country. To be able to have this opportunity to go is great. If it wasn’t for Port City and everyone that helps me, this wouldn’t be possible. Got racers like Dennis Spencer and Micky Green coming down to help out, they’re a part of the Port City clan, and all the guys that help me up here. Hopefully we’ll have some fun, lock ourselves in through the Top 30, and have a good race.”
Though Hopkins has a lot of attention to just making the starting field through time trials, it is not dampening his desire or confidence that the No. 15 camp could pull the surprise upset after 100 laps.
“We all want to win, we never go to a race expecting to be happy with second. But, if we can get in on time and qualify well, that’ll be good. If not, we’ll race our way in, and we can still race pretty good. We seem to struggle in practice, but we always pull through when it counts.”