18-year-old 2023 ARCA Menards Series champion Jesse Love will aim to add another notch to his history making career when he competes in the $10,000-to-win Midget portion of Davey Hamilton, Jr.’s Open Wheel Showdown, racing into the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on December 1-2.
Love holds the distinction as the youngest overall champion, at age 13, in the storied history of the Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets in 2018. He also served as one of the final combined dirt and asphalt Midget champions in the history of the sport. Love’s career progression includes two 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series championships at Madera Speedway, a USAC Ford Focus Midget championship in 2017, and two ARCA Menards Series West crowns. His crowning championship in his development as a driver came this season as the 18-year-old notched ten wins on the way to the ARCA Menards Series national title.
“It should be awesome! I’m looking forward to going to be a big pavement race,” Love said “In open wheel we don’t get to see a lot of it and I wasn’t around during the glory days of it. Shoutout to the Hamiltons for putting it on. It takes someone like that to get this ball rolling and get pavement back where it should!”
A familiar pairing will reunite with Love driving for engine builder and car owner Tres Van Dyne after winning the BCRA championship together. Love will return to the seat of a pavement Midget, a division he recognizes as one of the best in the sport.
“I’ve had a lot of success with Tres and looking forward to rekindling that relationship. I feel really confident in my Van Dyne Midget motor and I know Tres is proud of it. The Midget cars are so beautiful and the best looking cars there is. It’s the most fun car to drive and the racing is always pretty intense,” Love said.
Love will be one of the few drivers in the Midget field with experience at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with 16 starts at the .375-mile oval and two wins in the USAC Ford Focus Midgets. He has also scored two podiums in three starts there in the ARCA Menards Series West.
“It’s a really unique track and people think it’s just paint the bottom. But the last time I won the race we kind of ran the middle,” Love said. “Obviously at Las Vegas you’d never run the top at a track like that. I was able to run a second or third groove to carry momentum however. It’s still for the most part can be a two lane race track. It looks cookie cutter but it’s very technical. There’s a lot of grip on the paint and it’s a really fast track for a pavement midget.”
“Getting horsepower hooked up for the race track will be difficult. It will be good racing at the end of the day.”
The driving technique that Love developed in his pavement Midget racing days has also been a big part of his development in the ARCA Menards Series, leading to 12 career ARCA national wins along with five ARCA Menards Series West wins.
“Growing up racing at Madera Speedway, Stockton, Ukiah, and Lakeport – it helped me kind of just live more on the edge than the pavement stock car stuff,” Love said. “It taught me how to race with respect and also have a lot of horsepower and how to drive a big horsepower car. Power to weight ratio is so big in a Midget and it’s so easy to break traction. With the pavement Midget Ive always had a big diamond in (my line). I still use that same technique to this day in the ARCA stuff: get in really hard and use the tire to your advantage.”
Registration is moving quickly for the inaugural Open Wheel Showdown, with just 75 spaces available for the $50,000-to-win Winged Sprint Car division. Drivers can learn more at www.OpenWheelShowdown.com
Tickets are also on sale though the Las Vegas Motor Speedway ticket office and online. Details can be found at both www.LVMS.com or the Open Wheel Showdown website.
The event will be telecast through Speed Sport and on the new Speed Sport 1 channel. More broadcast details will be announced soon.
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