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Buoyed by 1st Victory in 2 Decades, Doug Thorpe Jr. Looks for More in Crown Stocks at 5 Flags
230
4/24/2024

4/24/2024

Five Flags Speedway


Buoyed by 1st Victory in 2 Decades, Doug Thorpe Jr. Looks for More in Crown Stocks at 5 Flags

By Chuck Corder
5flagsspeedway.com reporter

Funny where a few of life’s left turns will take you.
Twenty years after celebrating his last win at Five Flags Speedway, Doug Thorpe Jr. was back in Victory Lane last Friday night at the famed half-mile asphalt oval. From a checkered flag in his family-owned Super Late Model back in 2004 to snagging another one, behind the wheel of a Crown Victoria he wasn’t even supposed to drive.
After his Outlaws car was destroyed in a vicious wreck last April, Thorpe now finds himself driving for close friend David Tau in the Story & Bleich Roofing Crown Stocks division. Thorpe’s win last time out puts him fifth in the series’ point standings.

“My main goal is to catch up with these guys,” Thorpe said, “and, by the end of the year, have a good points race. I’d like to win the championship for David.”
The 60-year-old Pensacola driver looks to slice into his 57-point deficit Friday night at Five Flags as the Crown Stocks (20 laps) return along with the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks (20) and the Super Late Models. The SLMs start their Gulf Coast Doubleheader weekend with a 100-lapper Friday, the second of four Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series races this season, before shifting to race at Mobile International Speedway on Saturday.

The grandstands open at 5 p.m. Friday at Five Flags with racing slated for 8 approximately. Admission is $20 for adults; $17 (seniors, military and students); $5 (children, ages 6-11); and free for kids (5-and-under).

Racing for Thorpe, affectionately known as “Dougie,” has always been a family affair. He and younger brother, Keith Thorpe, were mainstays in both the local racing scene at Five Flags Speedway and national touring series throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Doug Thorpe Sr., their father, and their uncle, Kenny, first fell in love with the sport in the ’70s and got Dougie and Keith started at a young age.

The last few years have been rough for the Thorpe sons. Senior passed away a few years ago and in January, Frances—the matriarch of the family—lost a lengthy battle.
“They were always a huge part of our racing programs,” Doug Thorpe Jr. said. “We are a very close family. It’s something you never get over.”

He looks to continue to make them proud this Friday and each night he slips on the fire suit and safety equipment for whatever car he drives. Thorpe is tickled to team up with Tau, who has helped a slew of local racers throughout the years.
Tau got his hands on an old police car last year in Gautier, Miss., and went to work on modifying it for the Crown Stocks class. He originally built it for Tim O’Shields, who drove it a few times before tragically and unexpectedly passing away from a heart attack.

“What are you gonna do with the car?” Thorpe asked Tau last summer.
“Get you to drive it,” Tau replied. “You ain’t driving (anything) now.”
The rest is history.
“It’s really (Tau’s) first time building a car,” Thorpe said. “He’d always given money and built rear ends for people, but never had owned a car. It’s fun watching him get so excited.”
Thorpe admitted he has his hands full in continuing to learn how to wheel the Crown Victoria. After years driving Late Models and Outlaws, Thorpe has struggled with understanding the car’s handling.
“I’m used to going so fast,” he said. “These are 3,500-pound balls of steel. The Outlaws are about 2,800 (pounds). These Crown Vic’s are big and cumbersome.”

Despite learning the nuances of the car, Thorpe explained the reason why the Crown Stocks have become such a popular class at Five Flags, often with car counts approaching fields of 30.
“These cars are bone-stock,” he said. “Sure, you can massage here and there, but you can’t do a tremendous amount with them. If we were racing carboard boxes, somebody’s gonna try and make them faster.
“Any type of racing we do, we take it seriously. We put a lotta effort into it. I’m having a blast.”


Article Credit: Chuck Corder

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