Rafe Slate traveled to Tennessee this past weekend to compete in the Masters of the Pros 150 race at the Nashville Fairgrounds.
Slate participated in the qualifier race on Friday, July 16 and needed a top-24 finish to be able to compete in Saturday’s 150-lap event.
“I qualified 10th on Friday,” Slate told the Lake Oconee News. “We worked on the car and made pretty good ground on it. However, we were still having an issue in the way the car moves, suspension-wise. But, we worked in and went out and got it ready for qualifying.”
Slate’s top-10 finish in the qualifier against nearly 40 other racers put him in a great position for the main event.
“I was happy with the way Friday went, but Saturday wasn’t quite as good,” Slate said. “It felt like we were all in about 175-degree heat, or close to it, so we were all on fire during the first 75 laps.”
A delay proved to be costly for Slate as it affected him heading back into the final 75 laps.
“I was extremely dehydrated and uncomfortable, but as soon as I got back in, I was ready to go,” Slate said. “But that didn’t go as planned, that’s for sure.”
The Eatonton native finished 25th out of 32 drivers at the Nashville-based Pro Late Model competition.
Slate did not finish the race after what happened to his vehicle during the halfway mark of the section portion of the race.
“The car is destroyed,” Slate said. “We were fighting a loose car on my bumper all day.” Slate said his vehicle was hit from behind by another driver with about 40 laps to go, which caused him to swerve and spin into the track wall around a turn.
“The way these new bodies work is that they move air around a little differently,” Slate said. “I think when he got up there, he just packed air into my quarter panel. There’s a big, big bump on turn two, which is notorious for wrecks.”
Slate said he ended up hitting the wall at speeds around 70 miles per hour.
“People talk about that curve on that track all the time,” Slate said. “It’s just something we have to deal with. Unfortunately, I hit that bump and I guess that air packed into the quarter panel of the car and just spun me around. I really couldn’t do much to keep it off the wall.”
Slate, fortunately, walked away from the wreck with no apparent injuries.
“I’m okay, I am not sore at all,” Slate said. “I’ve kind of trained myself not to brace for a wreck like that because you’ve got to let your muscles relax. If you sit back and let it happen, then you’re at less risk of getting hurt.”
Despite the results not being what he wanted, Slate said he and his family got to explore the city of Nashville.
“The final result was a bummer,” Slate said. “Nevertheless, I got to spend some time with family and visit some guitar stores, which was a great experience.”
Slate is scheduled to race in Cordele on Saturday, Aug. 14. However, he is unsure if his car will be repaired in time for the next CRA/Jegs Pro Late Model race at the Crisp Motorsports Park.