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Max Price gears up for another fast Pro Late-Model season in 2024

By James Hayes ------

Willie Traywick announces plans to run a full dirt Super Late Model schedule in 2024

As we get ready to kick off the 2024 racing season, we here at Field Pass sat down with 21-year-old Pro Late-Model driver Max Price.'

Max grew up in Holt, Michigan, a small town that sits just south of the state capital, Lansing. He was born into racing, growing up just minutes away from Spartan Speedway, now known as Corrigan Oil Speedway, and a little further down the road, you can find Springport Speedway.

Max, when did you get your start in racing?

Max Price: I started racing Bandoleros when I was 13. My mom used to take me to Corrigan Oil Speedway all the time when I was growing up, and then one day, my dad asked me if I wanted to try this, and I said, Yeah! Of course. We ended up renting a Bandolero from my friend's uncle, and off we went.

How did that first race go for you?

Max Price: Really good. We went out and won my first night out—funny story about that. Before I went out there I asked my dad, where do I go if I win? He told me not to worry about that and just focus on racing, and then I won the race and had no idea where to go. I later found out you are just supposed to stop in the middle of the track and pose for a picture. I didn’t know that, so I just went off the track, and that was it. I knew where to go the next time out, though. We won that race too!

Walk us through that first season that started off so great.

Max Price: So, I joined really late in Bandoleros, like really late. I did three races, or the first three races, at 13. Then, at 14, I spent the whole year racing Bandoleros.

How did that first full season go?

Max Price: We finished third in points. There wasn’t a lot of competition that year besides me and a few of my buddies. Every weekend, we would be three wide around the track. It was crazy. After that year, I aged out of the Bandolero class and began racing late models.

What were the deciding factors in making the jump straight into a late model that year?

Max Price: We didn't want to go to Legend Car, we just thought that was kind of dangerous. I've just seen videos and videos of people flipping and catching on fire and everything. Also, we didn't want to go to front-wheel drive because that teaches bad habits.

Walk us through the opening years of your late model career.

Max Price: We ran late models around the local tracks in Michigan for about three years. We ended up finishing third in points each of those years. Then, we decided to go to North Carolina and get an evaluation with a team there.

Who was the evaluation with, and how did that turn out?

Max Price: It was with a team called Leicht Motorsports. The whole trip was just an evaluation to show us if I was actually good at this or not, and they thought I was good enough to race for them. They had a seat open, and I was happy to take it.

How did your first year racing in North Carolina play out?

Max Price: I think I got fourth and points my first year and no wins. However, the very next year, we ran it back. That year, we won the championship at Hickory Motor Speedway and got three wins along the way. I did it the Matt Kenseth way, winning a few races but taking the championship. We stood on the podium in 15 straight races that year.

Where did your journey lead you after winning that championship?

Max Price: We did that for another year, then moved to E33 Motorsports in 2023 and ran the Carolina Pro Late Model Series.

How did the 2023 season turn out?

Max Price: We ended up finishing third in points. It should have been second, but we lost an engine in the final race with 40 laps to go. It was a fun season, though. We did a lot of traveling, which was new to me. Before this past year, I was limited to my local tracks and Hickory Motor Speedway. Overall, the Carolina Pro Late Model Series took us to 12 different tracks.

Walk us through some of the highlights or even lowlights from the 2023 season.

Max Price: Yeah, so, like I said, it was the first year of traveling for me. That was a big, big hump for me to get over. Because, you know, I've been limited. We went to the combine in the winter with E33 Motorsports. It was pretty much just another evaluation like the one I did a few years earlier for Leicht. This one was to see if I would be a good fit in a pro-late model since I have been running late-model stocks up to this point. I did pretty well at the combine. They give you driving coaches, which, funny enough, was my teammate from when I was with Leicht. He helped me through the process of handling a pro car. They called me the next day and said, we want you to be on our team. That is probably the best feeling I've ever gotten to get that call the next day. Just to know that I'm good enough.

We got started, and the very first race was at Hickory Motor Speedway, my playground, so to speak. We were actually doing really good. We qualified fourth, and with the invert, I started on the outside pole. I think we were passing for the lead on lap 10, and then my third link bolt snapped in half. So, my rear end was kind of out of control. I still have the video, and I still watch it to this day to remind me of what could have been. So, this year already started with a lowlight. We made do with what we had, though, and I came into the pits. I was still in the car because I was just in shock at what happened. We were having a good day, and that just ripped it all from me. My crew chief Austin said we found another bolt that we're going to put on. When we went back out there. I was 15 laps down, but every point is crucial. Every point counts. I think we did actually finish in front of a couple of people, so we definitely got some points.

The next race was at Dillon Motor Speedway, a braking track. So I went from a track that I was most comfortable with, that I knew very well, to a track that I had never been to. We actually did fairly well. Every other team got way more practice time because we just went the day of. I ended up finishing fifth in that race. I thought that was a good indication of what was to come.

Next up, we went to Orange County Speedway. The track is a little rough, and it was a big learning curve the first time out. I ended up getting lapped in that race, so it wasn’t a very good outing for us. However, we went back later in the season and rebounded. I ended up getting fourth that time and did way better. I was running third and then got shuffled up into the wall, so I had to back off, giving up that spot.

Later in the season, we went to Goodyear All American, my favorite track of this series last year, along with Carteret County Speedway, which was the following weekend. We wanted to bring two cars for that, just so we could set up a Goodyear All-American car and then set up a Carteret car. While we were practicing, Austin, my crew chief, said let's try something different. Let's get in the other car and see if you like it or not. So I went in the other car, and I really liked it. So, we ended up sticking with the same car for each race. I actually led my first laps of the season at All-American. Five laps into the race, I got in front and stayed there for a while. It wasn’t until a caution flag flew that we lost the lead after being way out front. I ended up getting pushed up the track again and lost the lead with about 50 to go. We ended up fourth in that race.

Any particular tracks that stood out to you over the season?

Max Price: Well, I mean, I’m kind of biased towards Hickory because I've spent so much, probably spent the majority of my racing career there, and you know, it just grew on me with winning the championship with them and everything out there. But, if I had to say other than Hickory, probably Goodyear All-American Speedway. It’s a mini tri-oval, basically like Daytona, but a 3/8 mile. Franklin County Speedway in Virginia was really fun. I really liked that one. I wasn’t a big fan of Anderson Motor Speedway, though.

What is one of the key takeaways from your first season traveling to different tracks?

Max Price: This past season really widened my palette for different tracks. Especially with the braking tracks. That was where I mainly struggled, and there were a lot of those so that definitely helped me.

Shifting gears a bit here. Do you do any of the work on your cars?

Max Price: Basically, when we started, we bought, I want to say, a 1988 chassis from Wisconsin. It was a dinosaur, really, and it was it was not a very good car. But it was our first car, and it was cheap. So yeah, it was just me and my dad working on it in a big barn with basically no insulation. That was a little tough. The roof leaked when it rained, and it got snowed in a lot with no heating or insulation. So those winter nights were a pain.  When I was with Leicht Motorsports, I didn't do that much on the cars because I wasn't there in North Carolina for them. I was in Michigan still, and I was driving back and forth every weekend for racing, about a 700-mile trip back and forth from Michigan to North Carolina. When I was at the track, I would nut and bolt check with them, and I just kept asking, what can I do? They would find stuff for me to do, and I would get it done. This last year, I got to work at E33 Motorsports while driving for them. So, I got to work on my own cars, that was really nice. I really liked that.

How many cars were in the stable at E33?

Max Price: Four. I was in a carousel of cars throughout the entire season. We named all of our chassis in the shop just to give them their own personality. So we had Jenkins, Mavrick, Jerry, and Woody. Each race was a different car. It was really cool to be able to work on and see each chassis and the differences between them.

Did you have a favorite chassis?

Max Price: I actually became pretty fond of Jenkins. It was my first car with them, and it was a white car, I really like white cars. It broke my heart when they sold it. Especially because the race right before I finished on the podium with it. It ended up being sold to some folks who took it to Bowman Gray Stadium. So, with that said, I had already said my prayers and goodbyes to the car. The guy that bought it even said I hope you’re not attached to this car. Jenkins ended up getting destroyed a few weeks later.

At this point in your young career, what would you say have been your biggest accomplishments?

Max Price: I think, you know, other than winning the championship at Hickory Motor Speedway. I think it was just how quickly I adapted to each track. This year, especially with all the new tracks that I've been to. I was pulling fast times like the other guys. It was an accomplishment that I am really proud of.

What are the plans for 2024?

Max Price: It's up in the air at this point in my career where I'm going for the future. It's looking to be more of a mechanic kind of thing. However, I am still looking for the right opportunities. We are looking at a couple of teams with open seats, and I am not opposed to returning to E33 Motorsports either.  I am willing to take any available seat, even if it means driving a modified or any other opportunity.

As Max looks for a new ride in 2024, stay tuned into Field Pass for updates on this young driver's motorsports career. With the consistency he has shown over the years, it won’t be long before Max is back in the driver’s seat competing at the highest levels of grassroots racing in the country!

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