Will Blount+ Patino = Win in Friday’s “Road to the Snowflake” Pro Late Models?
Joining Forces with Blount, Young Patino Hones in on First Allen Turner Pro Late Model 100 Victory
By Chuck Corder
Fate has a funny way of intervening during trying times.
At 6-foot-1, Perry Patino is a strapping, young lad — all 19 years of him — filled with a white-hot passion for late model racing, but with grassroots pockets not as deep as some of his competitors.
Patino and his father, Richard Patino, were planning on putting racing in the rearview and letting the Montgomery, Ala., native focus on his sophomore year at the University of Alabama and his pursuit of a degree in international business.
Just as the driving forces behind Perry Patino Motorsports were discussing a break from short-track racing, Larry Blount threw the father-son team a life preserver.
In his first race driving for Blount on July 6 at Five Flags Speedway, Perry Patino finished runner-up in the Allen Turner Pro Late Model 100 lapper to Casey Roderick, who hasn’t lost a PLM race at Five Flags since 2016.
“It was amazing,” Patino gushed. “Larry’s had good drivers for a long time. But, we needed a good finish, and I could tell his confidence was a little low. Mine, on the other hand, was just starting to build.
“I think (Blount) was ready for a young kid, like myself, that’s motivated and wants to work hard. Larry’s so easy to work with.”
Patino hopes for another strong outing in the Blount No. 21 when the Allen Turner PLM Series returns Friday night to Pensacola’s high banks. The WCIparts.com Pro Trucks and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks will also be in action.
Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday and admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; $5 for children ages 6-11; free for kids 5-and-under.
The Patinos and Blount had struck up a friendly relationship at the track, with Perry offering his services for free a few years ago to the Blount car driven by Justin South, “just so I could learn as much as I could,” Patino explained.
But the Patinos could’ve never predicted Blount’s call out of the blue a month before the July race.
“Larry called me up on day, and it was super good timing,” Perry Patino said. “He asked if I’d drive for him. Obviously, I said, ‘Yes sir,’ right away.
“He saved us from having to stop racing. If we can continue to keep him happy, show him that I’ll work hard, I hope he will want to continue to support us for a real long time.”
Patino is young, and despite having eight years of racing under his belt, he know there still is a lot to learn about late models. The good thing about the gregarious young man is he is unabashed to ask the sport’s elite drivers for ways to improve and mature as a wheelman.
He picked Roderick’s brain, wanting to understand how the Georgia driver has been so dominant at Five Flags.
“Casey said in the last race he won in Pensacola, he was not killing in the center (of the turns), but had a better drive coming off the turns late in races,” Patino explained. “I brainstormed with our crew chief, and we’re working on some forward bite and a few other things to see what we can do to start beating (Roderick).”
Perry Patino didn’t rise out of a traditional racing family. Dad Richard is a native of Bogotá, Colombia, and came to America on a swimming scholarship at Alabama.
After college, Richard Patino started a screen-printing business with his father-in-law. As a thank you, one of their customers asked if he wanted to come out to Montgomery Motor Speedway and drive his stock car.
Not knowing a thing about the sport, except the old cliché that the drivers go in circles, Richard Patino accepted the invitation. A week later, Richard Patino had his own car and was racing on his own.
Perry, just 8 at the time, was there every week.
By the time Perry made it to 11, Richard Patino was ready to pass the torch and put his son in go-karts. Perry quickly worked his way up to late models by age 15.
“It’s taken a lot to get to the point where we’re running now,” Patino admitted. “It’s hard when a lot of these guys race every weekend.”
But with Blount’s backing, Patino feels like he finally has the resources and support he needs to contend week-in and week-out.
Plus, because of his Colombia roots, Perry has applied to be a part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which has produced stars such as Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suárez. He’ll find out if he is one of the dozen or so drivers selected after the season.
For now, he and the Blount Motorsports team is hungry to reach Victory Lane.
“Right now, all we want is wins,” Patino said. “I think we have something figured out. We’ll go to the track with a buncha things. If they work, great. Honestly, though, we’re just looking for wins.”