In the spotlight this week is NHRA Division 4 racer Cole Cummings. The Hammond, Louisiana native is part of the legendary Cummings Motorsports team.
Cole is currently leading the national standings in Super Gas and is ranked sixth in Super Comp. He has quickly advanced through the NHRA ranks even though he’s only in his fourth season of driving race cars.
He did compete for a brief period in the Jr. dragster ranks but said he and his family just weren’t into the little cars that much.
In addition to his racing efforts, Cole has jumped into the race promotion business. Along with partner Slate Cummings, the duo will bring the Hot August Nights bracket race to Pine Valley Dragway on August 9-10, 2019. Click here for more information.
In the following Q&A, we get to know more about Cole Cummings and growing up in a famous racing family.
What was it like growing up in a racing family, traveling all the time?
It’s a different lifestyle than most people experience. Racing is an unforgiving sport to say the least. We travel hundreds of miles across the country to try and get to the finish line by 2 inches.
Most would look at the risk vs. reward of those statistics and buy a bass boat. Not us, we pack our bags, sometimes buy groceries, and leave our driveway expecting to win. There is nothing like doing what you love with your family. That is the reward.
Who does all the maintenance on the Cummings Motorsports race cars?
We take care of the general maintenance ourselves. My dad (Britt) keeps up with the dragsters and reminds me what needs to be done when I forget. I’m still learning a lot but I try to help out and be as independent as I can. Sometimes I need Slate (Uncle) to break loose a converter bolt or two. He is our muscle of the group.
My grandpa is usually the one filling everything up with diesel, water, changing the oil in the generator, airing the trailer tires up, making sure we are ready to go when the time comes. He is the reason that we don’t have a catastrophe every time we go on the road.
What’s involved in preparing a fleet of racecars and getting them all to the track?
Filling up 50 gallons worth of fuel jugs. Loading up seven racecars is no easy task but we do it fairly quickly. Washing the motor homes and trailers so that everything is clean when we pull into the gate. It’s a lot of work but it comes with the territory of what we do.
Why did you make the move from Super Street to Super Gas this season?
I loved running in Super Street. It’s a fun class with a variety of car models and mph differences. I made the decision over the winter to switch to Super Gas because Super Street is not contested at every national event we go to.
I figured that we have a car that is able to run in Super Gas so why not be able to enter it at every race that we go to. The other contributing factor was being able to run for national points as Super Street doesn’t compete for a national championship.
What’s your favorite class to compete in?
Tell us about your current race car(s).
Super Gas – 1967 Chevy II Nova, 582 SDPC Raceshop Big Block Chevy, FTI Transmission and Converter, Moser Engineering rear end and brakes, sitting on Mickey Thompson tires
Super Comp – 2011 Phantom Dragster, 615 SDPC Raceshop Big Block Chevy, APD carburetor, FTI transmission and converter, Moser Engineering rear end and brakes, Mickey Thompson tires
What is your favorite race car, and why?
My favorite racecar is definitely the Nova. It’s got character and a stance that just looks like its ready to eat. Anyone that has ever sat in it wants it. But I also have an eye for the Super Stock Chevy Cobalts. I have always liked the feel of sitting in them and just their aesthetics.
What is your favorite racetrack, and why?
Memphis International Raceway. Every time I have been there the tree comes on exactly when I want it to and my car moves at most 3 hundredths throughout a race day. I have always done well there whenever I am able to race.
Please list your major racing accomplishments.
1-0 record against Slate Cummings!
What are some of your goals in racing? What would you like to accomplish within the sport?
My immediate goal has always been to win a National Event Wally. I would like to get a Division Championship because it’s the coolest looking trophy in my opinion of all of them. Obviously I want to win the World Championship in any class. I’m hoping to get it done in Super Gas this year.
What’s your life like away from the track?
I like to fish, go duck hunting, and binge watch Netflix series.
Tell us what you do for a living?
I paint parking lots with my uncle and my dad. We have been in business for over 35 years and it keeps us pretty busy throughout the year.
Provide some insight into the work involved in keeping sponsors happy.
We strive to have a relationship with each of our sponsors that goes beyond just selling parts. When someone is in need of their parts we try to go above and beyond to get them taken care of. With a sponsor you have to be thinking of how you can give them as much or more than what they give you.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
Koy Collier and Britt Cummings. Koy has beat me in just about every way you can think of. At this point I’m just hoping that the odds game works out in my favor against him. My Dad has more of the “I’m about to show you” attitude than I have. Even worse is that he doesn’t care what the end result is when we race and that’s just dangerous.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
Minimizing your mistakes is the name of the game. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes wins the round. You have to learn how to lose and move on to the next car or race.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
At the U.S. Nationals a few years ago my car almost died when I floored it. It slowly rolled out of the beams when I let go of the button. It kicked off the throttle stop and came back to life.
This was my second year racing so my hot head/inexperience led me to run it out and not look at my opponents scoreboard while going down the track. He goes a 8.899 while I run it through and go 8.886.
Easily the worst round in U.S Nationals history. The time slip didn’t make sense, the run didn’t make sense, but in the end I lost the round with embarrassment. Lesson learned to keep my emotions in check.
Who’s the most talented driver on the Cummings Motorsports team?
Slate is the most talented racer of us. He is usually going to be .015 or better on the tree and take .010 or less. He has had a rough year so far from opponents getting inside of it though. He is a World Championship waiting to happen every year.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
Did I turn my air bottle on? I should’ve tied my shoes tighter.
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
Hanging out with everyone after the racing is over for the day. There is nothing like your racing family.
Are you superstitious?
No, I am the least superstitious person you can be.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
Hate to lose
Are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
The finish line is my strong point. I caught on to the finish line aspect of racing fairly quickly. The starting line is where I struggle most of the time.
What motivates you to continue racing?
Catching someone at 800’ down track and giving it the first rip. The satisfaction of winning a race can’t be replaced. It leaves all of the hard work and rough times in the past.
Is there another class you’d like to race besides the Super classes?
Super Stock and Top Dragster
How often do you use a practice tree?
I started using a practice tree at least four times a week this year and it has really helped with my inconsistency on the tree.
What is your daily driver?
Favorite movie or TV show?
TV Show: That 70’s Show
Movie: Forrest Gump (how original)
Favorite music, artist?
I like most genres. I don’t have a favorite artist but my least favorite is Miley Cyrus.
Where do you spend the most time on the internet?
What is your favorite sport? Favorite team?
LSU Football and Baseball
What are you really good at?
I think that I’m hilarious!
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
My second toe is longer than my big toe.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
Hang out with a crowd.
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Chicken and Dumplings.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
My Dad, Mom, Uncle, Grandma, Grandpa, David Latino, Walt Walker, The Moser family, the Ellison family, the Hidalgo family, the Harmon family, the Folk family, and Stan and Sheila Holt.
Moser Engineering, FTI Performance, Mickey Thompson Tires, Amalie Oil, Renegade Race Fuel, KN Filters, APD Carburetors, Weldon High Performance, Brodix, Alliance Racewear, Imagine That Customs, DENSO Auto Parts, Weld Racing, ROCK Racing Batteries, and Auto Meter.