Chad Layton / Middleswarth Racing Parting Ways
410 Sprint Car Driver Chad Layton is seeking a ride after being told by car owner Dave Middleswarth that he has no plans to run his no. 7 next season.
The Middleswarth Potato Chip race car has been iconic in Central Pennsylvania racing for many years. Layton replaced legend Keith Kauffman behind the wheel five seasons ago and won 2 Port Royal Speedway track titles in that span.
The Middleswarth team has cut back its racing activity in the past seasons. This year they concentrated on Port Royal competition which is closest to its chip factory in Middleburg. They fielded a car for Layton in less than a handful of races at Williams Grove this season.
"I don't believe they are coming back," said Layton on Friday by phone to Area Auto Racing News. "As far as I know they are done racing" said Layton. "Thats the impression I was left under from Dave Middleswarth, but that remains to be seen."
Layton with Jim Shuttlesworth turning the wrenches, won just one feature event this year at Port Royal. The team however, was in contention to win the point championship until late in the season.
"We finshed fourth this year in points," said Layton, "coming down to the last couple of races we were tied for the point lead. We just fell short at the end."
"I am looking for something," said Layton. "It's a little too far into the future at this point to see what next year holds yet for me. I have been in talks with some other people but I want to make sure its the right deal and as of yet I don't have any concrete plans."
Bad Chad really struggled this year wtih the family owned team. With Middleswarth not fielding a car weekly at Williams Groves Friday events he tried to run his own team there for the second straight year. After two ninth place finishes in the first three events, it all went wrong. Two hard flips and some other problems found the family car sidelined for the rest of the season.
Layton said he has had conversations with his father and brother about the possibility of running his own team again more next year. "It's a tough deal to run your own stuff." said Layton. I'll just have to see what comes about. I've looked at all avenues and I am undecided at the moment. I don't have any plans. I've talked to a couple people along with my dad and brother so nothing is out of the question."
Layton's resume proves he is one of 410 Sprint Car Racing's best drivers. After starting his career in 1998, the now 39 year old driver has won over 90 feature events. Some of those events include World of Outlaws, All Star Cirucuit of Champions, National Sprint Tour (NST), Hagerstown's Fall Fest, Port Royals Dream Race, Selinsgrove's National Open, Lincoln Speedways 54th Anniversary Race (54 laps) just to name a few.
He was a dominating driver in the 358 Sprint Car class taking down 55 victories and multiple Selinsgrove and Williamsgrove Championships from 2000-2005. Making the move into the 410's, he became the first driver in Williams Grove history to win both a 410 and 358 feature in the same night. That was in 2005.
Layton's success helped land him a ride in the famous Apple No. 12 and Pete Postupack's No. 25. Then came the Middleswarth deal in 2009, first as a teammate to Keith Kauffman and then as their only driver.
"They always gave me a good, competitive race car," said Layton. "The opportunity they gave me was just special, to sit in the same car that Keith did was a dream come true."
Of his many 410 Sprint Car wins, 12 have come at Port Royal. The Middleswarth team was able to muster up two Port Royal Championships, two runner up finishes and a fourth place finish coming this year in the 5 year run and it is something Layton is proud of. "It was a good deal for me," said Layton. "We had five good years together. Every year I ran for them we either won the Championship or contended for it at Port Royal."
Layton wasn't really sure what happen with the Middleswarth team. "Like anybody else, no matter what tax bracket you fall into," said Layton, "it cost a lot of money to do this. When you do it for so long I guess it comes to a point where you just have had enough of it."
"If you want to have the best of the best it can be very expensive," said Layton. When asked about his 2015 plans to run the family car he said "it might be a little cheaper to run a 360 car vs. the 410 but the amount you spend to returned income, they are both pretty well outta control."
For several years Layton made his living driving a race car two or three nights a week. This past season, he only ran 28 times, not nearly enough to put bread on the family table. "I did at one time race full time and tried to make a living at it," said Layton. "But things have changed, I just don't race as much as I used to. My kids have gotten older and my priorities have changed. I'm still chasing the dream, but as the cost of living continues to rise as well as fielding a race car it's hard to make a living out of it like drivers once did."
Thank you for 5 great years Dave!