Holley’s LS Fest (link is external) is an event near and dear to our hearts. We attend every year for a chance to witness drag racing, autocross and drifting, all in one weekend and all cars featuring an LS or LT engine. This is where Dirk Stratton comes into the picture. Two years ago, at the 2015 Holley LS Fest, we saw a grey C6 Corvette ripping through the gears at Beech Bend Raceway with a trail of white smoke behind it and we were blown away. It was refreshing to see a Chevrolet chassis dominating in a motorsport series comprised almost solely of small Japanese cars, so we have been keeping our eyes on the driver, Dirk Stratton, ever since.
As it turns out, he has grown leaps and bounds since we last saw him at LS Fest. That year, in 2015, he won the Midwest Drift Union Championship which earned him a spot in the Formula Drift Pro2 series, only one tier below the big dogs of Pro1. He competed in the ‘16 season of Formula Drift (FD) and came in a very impressive 4th place in the overall series points which earned him the prestigious “Rookie of the Year” title.
Dirk is now positioned to compete in the FD Pro2 series again in 2017, although his “Rookie of the Year” title did earn him a license to compete in Pro1. “You know, I just think my team and I should compete another year in Pro2 in order to refine a few things and continue to grow. We hope to enter the Pro1 series in 2018 as a better team and I’m confident we can dominate,” Dirk told us.
So, within a matter of just a few years, Dirk climbed the ladder from the grassroots level of drifting to a professional level, competing alongside some of the best drifters in the world. We were intrigued to find out how he got here and how he progressed so quickly, so we gave him a call to learn more about his story.
If you’re at all familiar with the grassroots autocross and time attack scene, chances are, you’ve heard of Danny Popp. He’s the guy that seems to always be holding giant trophies on Sundays at premier events around the U.S. and drives nothing but blue Corvettes. Well, it was high time we chatted with Mr. Popp to get his thoughts on just why he likes those blue Corvettes so much, why he races and see if there was any wisdom he could impart upon us.
Danny grew up in an essentially Chevrolet-dedicated family. Both his mother and father were NCCC (National Council of Corvette Clubs) and SCCA members. Danny’s father was an engineer at General Electric and had a passion for all things mechanical, which he instilled upon little Danny at an early stage. Danny grew up around a couple Corvettes (‘65 327/350 coupe and ‘72 LT-1 coupe), 70 1/2 Z28 and even a Corvair. On weekends, Danny said he would attend autocrosses with his mother and father where they became a bit of local legends.
Years later, and now Danny is a seven-time SCCA Solo II national champion (amongst many other wins) and is also a full-time certified Corvette specialist/technician at McCluskey Chevrolet in Cincinnati, Ohio. Danny tells us he also night-shadows as the Owner, proprietor and sole employee of RAFT Motorsports, Inc., a consulting firm for several national racers.
There is a tradition in the Stratton family, of Beloit, Ohio, that has been rolling along since at least 1928, and most likely began when the last bolt on the first internal combustion engine was tightened down. The automobile is the steel, glass, power, and glue that binds this family and holds them firmly on the road together.
Beloit, population 978, is a tiny town some 63 miles southeast of Cleveland. It has no great landmarks, no notable historical markers except for the old Norfolk Southern railway that runs through it, and maybe a little history in the making in an up and coming native son—drifter extraordinaire Dirk Stratton.
Many of us gazed longingly at the Superformance Corvette Grand Sport at this year’s SEMA show. Sitting pretty in the Lingenfelter booth, the car makes your imagination run wild. What would it be like to sit in the drivers seat and feel the 550 horsepower monster with 500 lb-ft of torque pushing your body back in the seat? Lucky for us, Hillbank Motorsports in Irvine, CA hooked us with a test drive of this ferocious ‘Vette.
American-owned, South African manufacturer Superformance, known world-wide for their amazing Cobra replicas and Shelby-licensed production of continuation Cobras, seized the opportunity to recreate one of the rarest and most heralded cars in history: the legendary Corvette Grand Sport under license to GM— in concert with chassis maker Duntov Motors, who build the racecar versions.
BRIGHTON, Mich. October 11, 2016; Dirk Stratton of Stratton Racing was named the Formula DRIFT Pro 2 class “Rookie of the Year” after a fourth-place finish in the overall 2016 season point standings. The newcomer earned 191.00 points driving a 2009 C6 Corvette powered by a Lingenfelter Performance Engineering LS7 V8 engine.
Stratton drives the only Corvette competing in the Formula DRIFT classes and is the only competitor using a Lingenfelter power plant, which he says contributed to his outstanding season results. The rookie competitor also relied on Lingefelter’s expert engineering team to lend the technical support that helped his vehicle reach optimal performance during each competition.