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Former Chatham Resident Wins Southern Racing Championship


Appeared in November 27, 2014 issue of the Cape Cod Chronicle (chatham_edition_20141127_34)

CHATHAM – Former Chatham resident Devin O’Connell, a 17-year-old junior at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn. was recently crowned champion in the 2014 Allison Legacy Touring Series Champion.

O’Connell, who got his racing start on the Cape, finished third in the final race of the season on Nov. 1 at the Florence Motor Speedway in Timmonsville, S.C. He proved to be the best driver this season, winning 10 of 16 races and finishing in the top three in all 16 races.

“I am so happy to be able to win this championship,” O’Connell said through a press release. “Thank you to the Allison Brothers for a fantastic series. Thanks to my Dad for putting this car together week after week. Thank you Chatham Highlander Motel for the sponsorship. I had such a great experience driving this car for the past five years.”

O’Connell, the subject of a Cape Cod Chronicle feature this summer, has been racing in the southern Allison Legacy Series since 2012. Last year, he finished second in the point standings and won his first race, the Allison Legacy Challenge, at the final race of the season at Florence Speedway. In addition, O’Connell was the recipient of the “Most Improved Driver Award” and he, along with his crew chief and father, won the Sportsmanship Award.

The Allison Legacy Series was started by the three sons of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison. The car is a three-quarter scale replica of a NASCAR and the series races at tracks in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. The Legacy cars have been a stepping-stone in the careers of many current NASCAR drivers including Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, David Reagan, and Brian Vickers.

A resident of Madison, Conn., O’Connell jumped at the chance to race in the southern series when his mother took a new job in Charlotte, N.C. a few year ago. Prior to that, he participated in the Allison Legacy North Series in 2010 and 2011, racing at tracks throughout New England. Another job change resulted in O’Connell’s family returning to Madison this past fall. In addition to racing in the Legacy series, O’Connell added Legend car racing to his 2014 season, racing for 860 Motorsports. Legends cars are five-eighths-scale race cars powered by a Yamaha motorcycle engine and are designed to resembleAmerican automobiles from the 1930s and 1940s.

O’Connell has had an impressive rookie season, winning his fifth start on the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Winter Heat Race Series in January. His success continued at the U.S. Legends Winter Nationals at Auburndale Speedway in Winter Haven, Fla. in February, where he finished second in points, recording one win and four top-five finishes.

The highlight of O’Connell’s Legend season came at the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he finished in the top five in seven of the 10 races with two wins and three second place finishes. His first win on June 16 was televised nationally on MAVTV.

O’Connell had the points lead heading into the final race of the Shootout when an unfortunate incident on the track resulted in a cut right front tire. The flat tire cost the young racer several laps as his car underwent repairs in the pits, resulting in a 15th place finish. The unfortunate turn dropped O’Connell to third place in points, but it was still an impressive effort for a rookie in the Summer Shootout.

O’Connell rebounded on Aug. 2 by picking up the Semi-Pro divisional win and the famed guitar trophy during Legendstock at Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, N.Y. In total, O’Connell won 12 Legends races in 32 starts during his 2014 season, including a win at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) on Sept. 12 and a Semi-Pro divisional win at Seekonk (MA) on Oct. 3. His overall 2014 winning percentage in both the Legacy and Legend car divisions is an astounding 43.75 percent with an average finish of approximately third place (3.21 to be exact).

O’Connell, who experienced a five-race winning streak this season, has two more races in his Legend car to wrap up the 2014 season. He will be racing in the “Turkey Derby” at Wall Stadium in Wall, N.J. on Nov. 28 and 30. His final Legend race for the year is the U.S. Legends World Road Racing Championship at Virginia International Raceway on Dec. 7 in Alton, Va.

Plans for the 2015 season include racing a full season in the Legend car at tracks located in the northeast. O’Connell also plans to race the Winter Nationals in Orlando, Fla. in February, “The Battle of the Big Top” in April at Texas Motor Speedway, and the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. O’Connell is also hoping to make a debut in a full-scale late model car.