January 31, 2023


Automotive and technology

Young driver Max Cookson making quick rise in Super Late Model car


OXFORD — Max Cookson sits again in his chair, takes a handful of sips of Gatorade, and stares out into the pit spot at Oxford Plains Speedway.

If he weren’t donning his brown race fit, he could conveniently be confused for an regular teen just hanging out, wanting at race cars.

But the 19-year-outdated Pittsfield native is much from regular — he is the frontrunner in the big Tremendous Late Styles division at OPS. As of Wednesday, Cookson and his No. 39 auto had 620 factors, in advance of far more proven motorists Calvin Rose Jr. of Turner (599 points) and Curtis Gerry of Waterboro, who received the 2017 Oxford 250, as properly as the 2019 SLM year championship.

“I definitely feel we have been overachieving as to what we must be undertaking,” Cookson said. “Every week, we just try out to get a small much better and a tiny improved and keep progressing, as a driver, as a crew chief, as a staff, just test to keep progressing and get a small little bit superior just about every 7 days.”

Fellow OPS motorists have taken recognize.

“Cookson, he’s been appropriate on the dollars (all season),” Rose mentioned. “He’s experienced a fantastic displaying in his rookie calendar year. It’s quite spectacular to bounce into a car or truck like that and do as excellent as he’s executing, so hat’s off to him.”

“He’s definitely undertaking very good, he’s got a very good team driving him,” Gerry additional. “He was a undoubtedly a great modified driver, champion and all of that. Specially to appear up in a tremendous like that (and acquire), that’s rather remarkable.”

This is no overnight results for Cookson. Final yr, he was the Professional All Star Collection (Move) Modified winner. Earning the changeover to the SLM division appeared to be the normal transfer.

“I feel it was, with out a doubt, the ideal choice,” Cookson mentioned.

Cookson raced on the go-kart circuit beginning at 5 years outdated. That experience, dad Chris Cookson claims, aided condition the driver Max is now.

Tremendous Late Product driver Max Cookson, 19, of Pittsfield, is taking pleasure in a standout period at Oxford Plains Speedway. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“When he was exactly 4 decades and 11 months old, I purchased him a go-kart,” said Chris Cookson, who also doubles as a team crew member. “I walked into the kitchen, his mom appeared at me and went, ‘You acquired a go-kart, did not you?’ I mentioned, ‘Yup.’ She did not say a term to me, that was it.”

About the program of the up coming 6 several years, Cookson observed good results in iRacing — a racing simulation activity — ahead of transitioning into modifieds previous 12 months. He didn’t feel he would have such early accomplishment.

“Not early on,” Cookson mentioned. “Obviously you want to, which is the goal. There’s a ton that goes into these cars and trucks. For what we’re performing, with the enable of our crew, we’re accomplishing a heck of a occupation.”

Cookson uncovered accomplishment quickly, profitable his first SLM race at the OPS period opener April 24.

“That was just incredible,” Chris Cookson reported. “So lots of people today known as and talked to him (immediately after the race). We walked into Jeff Taylor’s Distance Racing Merchandise (in Fairfield) that Monday after the race. He seems at Max and goes, ‘My god, there’s Dale Earnhardt.’ He said, ‘It’s been decades, considering the fact that I can bear in mind, an individual winning their first Tremendous Late Model race.’ To do that to start out of the gate was extraordinary. We’ve experienced a 2nd win (considering the fact that then), we’re foremost the points. We’re just possessing a super 12 months. He’s just obtained a great deal of natural talent and spends a large amount of time doing work on the auto.

“He’s ready to go out, operate 10-15 laps in a race, appear in and say, “OK, the motor vehicle desires this, the automobile requires this.’ 9 moments out of 10, the auto is improved, the automobile is quicker.”

When the Cooksons are not performing, a ton of time is currently being expended in the loved ones garage, tinkering with the vehicle.

Max Cookson runs follow laps in his No. 39 automobile on July 9 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Daryn Slover/Sunshine Journal

“The Tremendous Late Products are a little additional routine maintenance,” Chris Cookson mentioned. “The shocks are a lot far more innovative, that is a huge matter to find out. There’s additional operate on the automobile, additional maintenance on the motor vehicle. There’s additional adjustments, so there’s extra equipment in your toolbox, and for all those adjustments, you have to make the correct kinds.”

In a 50-lap SLM race on Saturday, Cookson managed to position third, assisting to retain his direct in the standings. To do so, Cookson experienced to struggle for positioning with Kyle Desouza, currently fourth in the SLM standings (575 factors). In the remaining laps of the race, Desouza handed Cookson for third location. As an alternative of appearing over his head in the problem, Cookson confirmed the moves of a veteran driver, generating a criss-cross shift driving Desouza and reclaim the 3rd spot for the conclude of the race.

“It was just great, really hard racing,” Max Cookson claimed. “Kyle drove by us, but then we had been ready to cross him up, keep in 3rd.”

Max Cookson is not certain how long he’ll stop up racing, but he said he’s going to enjoy every little bit of the experience.

“I feel everyone’s dream listed here is to do it for the prolonged haul, that is not real looking for 99 p.c of persons,” he claimed. “I’m likely to do it and have as a lot entertaining for as prolonged as I can do it.”

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