HOFFMAN TAKES ‘EM TO SCHOOL AGAIN IN NASHVILLE By Matt Kentfield
"Fast" Eddie Makes It Like Back In The Spring
When Eddie Hoffman’s racecar driving career comes to a close however many years down the road, he may have a perfect occupation already lined up. Most retired racers become crew chiefs, team owners or just soak up the sunshine and free time that once was taken up by tinkering on racecars.
But something else could be in the cards for Hoffman – a job where he would still be able to use that driving talent that won him numerous races throughout the country in Super Late Model competition and only have to work a couple of hours a day.
Eddie Hoffman could be one heck of a bus driver, because he has been taking drivers to school at Music City Motorplex in Nashville recently. The veteran racer won his third Nashville Guitar by winning the ASA Late Model 200-lap portion of the All American 400 weekend on Sunday afternoon by taking the lead from 20-year-old Californian Derek Thorn on lap 173 and cruised to his second-straight Music City victory.
Hoffman, who is more than twice Thorn’s age, educated the young driver in patience and speed, using a combination of the two before engaging in a side-by-side battle with Thorn before taking the lead for good. Thorn led most of the event by a large margin, but Hoffman had been quick in practice, demolished the track record in time trials and even though he had to start seventh due to the series’ post-qualifying re-draw, was the fastest car on the racetrack. Even Thorn, who came just a few laps short of the victory, was impressed and humbled by the show that Hoffman put on for the All American victory.
Eddie Hoffman earned his first All American trophy. (51 Photos)
“I got taken to school by Eddie Hoffman today,” said Thorn. “I knew Eddie was going to be coming because he was about a half-second faster than everybody else it seemed like. So it was just a matter of time before he came up and challenged for the win. I just tried to put as much distance between me and second-place on some of those restarts. There were so many restarts. My car was better after 20 or 30 laps, but Eddie got me. If I have to lose to someone, I’d rather lose to him because he’s been so good here and he’s got a ton of laps here.”
The experience of Hoffman was no match for the youth of Thorn, especially when it came down to crunch time. Hoffman found his way up to second by lap 150 and had his sights set on Thorn’s bumper. The two raced side-by-side for more than a full lap, but Thorn could not hold off Hoffman.
“We were fast,” said Hoffman. “We were faster than everybody else, but you need the whole track to keep the cars wound up. The preferred line was on the outside, so guys were trying to pinch me down and it was hard to pass. Once we got up front, I was worried about those last couple of restarts.
“You just have to hope that they don’t shift. With that no-shifting policy, if a guy does shift he can get a good jump on a guy. You hold your breath for a minute or two and hope they don’t get into you or get a run. We held them off.”
Hoffman’s patience and speed throughout the weekend almost went for naught near mid-way in Sunday’s race, however. Besides Thorn, who was checking out up front after the halfway break, Hoffman and Jack Smith were perhaps the two strongest competitors in Nashville. The two Super Late Model veterans raced side-by-side and bumper-to-bumper for many laps, but the two hard-chargers came together on lap 135.
Hoffman had been looking underneath Smith for third for a while, but Smith eventually cleared himself and began hunting down Bobby Parsley for second. Before Smith could get to Parsley, Hoffman switched tactics and shot to the outside of Smith and the two came together.
“Jack’s was an unfortunate deal,” said Hoffman. “I tried 50 laps on the inside of him and he raced me clean. He gave me the whole bottom line and did a great job. Then he went to the inside of Bobby and that opened up the outside. I stuck her out there and I was right behind Bobby. He tried down low to get by Bobby down the backstretch and I was right up to his right-rear tire. We’re inches apart at that point. He came up wanting that outside lane. I went on the brakes, but I couldn’t slow up enough to get by him.”
Smith saw things a little bit differently, however, especially because Hoffman was able to continue and eventually win the race, while his own chances at winning the All American event were dashed.
Jack Smith (left) was not very pleased with Eddie Hoffman and his entire team.
“That’s what happens when you’re old,” said Smith. “The guy’s won every race. We race, I raced him clean in the first half and I raced him and gave him plenty of lane. we’ve still got a long race to go. Maybe that’s Alzheimer’s already kicking in. I thought he had more class than that. I raced him clean in the first half so hey, if he wants to race, we’ll wait ‘til we get to speedways and stuff like that. I’ll wait until I get to Iowa Speedway when we’re doing 170mph and maybe the old fart can’t take it.
“The thing was, I kept getting better and better. I knew me and Eddie were the fastest cars, but I knew them guys were pushing and pushing and I knew what as coming in the next 20 laps, but no. He couldn’t be patient and let us duke it out at the end.”
Hoffman escaped from the incident unscathed, but barring any retaliation from Smith, the only thing on his mind after getting another guitar is who gets to go home with it.
“It’s great to win another guitar,” said Hoffman. “The car owner got the last one and he deserved it. He’s the best car owner in the business, bar none. I got the first one and it means a lot to have one. Now that I’ve got a third I don’t know who will get it, but it still feels special to win in Nashville. It’s the win and the money and a guitar, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Hoffman (#8) passed Derek Thorne (#5) for the lead.