As the ARCA Menards Series heads back to the dirt track at the DuQuoin Fairgrounds, one of the fan favorites in the series is looking to continue his luck after taking his first career top-10 finish at Springfield.
Brayton ‘The Pizza Man’ Laster is once again teaming up with Rise Motorsports to pilot the No. 31 for the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin. He and the team are hoping for another great result on the dirt. While there was reason for celebration after the race, Laster said it didn’t come easy after a nine-hour drive back home from Watkins Glen and helping Fast Track Racing.
“Saturday, Tim Goulet and company had arrived in Indianapolis (Where I am from) and unloaded their car at our little junkyard on the southeast side. We then began tearing down the car, changing the rear end, swapping transmissions, shocks, suspension components, truck arms, etc. We did not get done until almost 5:00 in the morning on Sunday,” the 21-year-old said.
“The race had a lot of ups and downs, every 30-40 laps the engine would start getting hot and I would have to pull in for the team to pour water on it and cool the car down. Unfortunately, that set us back quite a bit throughout the race but we still ended up getting my first career top-10 in the ARCA Menards Series, and Rise Motorsports’ first national series top-10. Any day you are able to drive the car back into the trailer and just have to clean it is a happy day for us,” he added.
The car wasn’t the only thing facing overheating issues during that race however, Laster talked about the heat he experienced in the racecar. “That was by far the most miserable I have probably been in a racecar. With the high temperatures and all the dust from the racetrack, it just kind of created a perfect condition.”
Yesterday was probably one of the hottest races of my career, real feel of 109 or something close to that, probably 130-140 in the car if not hotter, that with the dirt and dust created a miserable environment. I don’t have a cool suit, never have, didn’t have a helmet blower,… pic.twitter.com/KLuHgFIhjq
— Brayton Laster (@TheOnePizzaMan) August 21, 2023
The sophomore driver in the series added that he normally doesn’t run a cool suit or a helmet blower. “In my 13-year-long racing career, I do not think there was any way I could have prepared for this one.”
The Greenwood, IN native, has had some dirt experience in late models and the Truck Series running at Knoxville, but he says the lessons learned in late models didn’t translate over very well.
“It was a little awkward at first…Late models are about 1,000 pounds lighter and have about 300 more horsepower than your average ARCA car,” Laster explained. “My six years of experience definitely helped me as far as adapting and getting used to it, but nothing was easy to just transfer right over.”
Overall, Laster says that it’s been a long season for him. After not returning to Mullins Racing after Daytona he didn’t have anything lined up for the season. He credits the team at Fast Track Racing with helping him stick around the sport.
“Fast Track took me in with open arms and we really hit the ground running. I have been able to acquire all kinds of seat time at a variety of all kinds of different tracks, and these are just opportunities I never really thought I would get.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, The Pizza Man would love another top-10, but he also has his mind set on the right idea.
“For any race, the ideal goal is to bring the car back home the way it was unloaded. Especially at the ARCA dirt races, a lot of stuff can easily get torn up just from the track conditions themselves, so if you are able to just clean it and the car is practically race-ready, that is fantastic.”
He also credits hard work and is thankful for the opportunities he gets to be behind the wheel of a racecar.
“These are just opportunities I never really thought I would get. Then when Tim Goulet with Rise Motorsports called us the week of Springfield and said he was looking for a dirt guy to come wheel and deal his car for him, I was sold. It just goes to show that hard work and determination can still pay off in this sport. I was just supposed to be a write-off after Daytona, and never seen again, but we crawled back, and we’re still doing it,” he added.
Laster and the team are also still looking for partners. Laster says they’ll have logos, faces, pictures, memes, and other things on the car from folks, who have contributed funds to aid his efforts. He added that most of his partners have been first-time partners in racing, including his new deal with Drillbrush.
“It is a bit different style of marketing and sponsorship approach than I have typically seen, but if there is anything to know about me, it is that I am not typical,” Laster stated.
If you’re interested in partnering with, or just getting your meme on the No. 31 Chevy with Brayton you can reach out to him on social media.
Hey fans, we’re still looking for marketing partners for the upcoming ARCA race at DuQuoin, for only $100, you can have your logo, face, picture of your cat, favorite meme, whatever you’d like on our car in front of national television. Just shoot me a message! We also have more… pic.twitter.com/ml2SBtsmaL
— Brayton Laster (@TheOnePizzaMan) August 27, 2023
You can catch Brayton Laster live on FS2 in the ARCA Menards Series Southern Illinois 100 at 9 PM ET/ 8 PM CT on Sunday, September 3rd.