IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY FOR THE CUMMINGS
With a third-generation driver onboard, the Cummings family’s racing legacy will continue for many years to come
In the racing world, it's not uncommon to see the proverbial racing bug be passed from one generation to the next. When a kid is raised at the track while a parent chases racing glory every weekend, it's impossible not to want to follow in those footsteps and live for the thrill of competition. The Cummings family is among the many racing families who have seen the racing bug affect newer generations, and what began as a one-racer team has expanded into a multigenerational operation.
Starting with patriarch Larry Cummings, the team has grown to include his sons Slate and Britt and grandson Cole, and at NHRA races where all Sportsman classes are contested, the family will run seven race cars down the track: Larry in Super Stock, Slate in Stock and Super Stock, Britt in Stock and Super Comp, and Cole in Super Comp and Super Street. And it’s through Cole that the family’s racing legacy will continue.
At the Beginning
Larry Cummings has been racing since 1966 and has had a career full of memorable moments, such as being part of Kenny Bernstein's Budweiser Motorcraft Super Team in 1985-86 and a victory at the 2016 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, his first NHRA national event win.
"Winning his first national event at 69 years old rejuvenated his career," said Britt. "He's about to take delivery of a new EasTexas Race Craft Super Stock Cobalt. He has never had a new race car, and he is ready and even has four motors ready to go."
Raised at the racetrack by a father who loved racing, Britt could not help but to want to become a racer. Later his brother Slate would get the racing bug as well, aided by a memorable first event.
"Slate was a senior in high school and never was interested in racing," said Britt of his younger brother. "We finally put him in a dragster at the house and told him to do burnouts. He liked it, and my dad sent him to Baton Rouge, La., and he won in his bracket race he entered, so he was hooked."
Ever since then, Larry and his sons Slate and Britt have raced together and have built a business that enables them to work side-by-side.
"When he drove the Super Gas car for Kenny Bernstein, Dad had to quit his job of 18 years to be able to drive it, so he started a parking lot striping business, and that's what we still do as a family," said Britt. "Dad is retired now, but pretty much every morning we get in the work truck together, we come home and go to the race car shop to work on our race cars, and then we all race together, so there is hardly any time when we're apart."
Now, the team has a new family member helping out with the business and chasing racing glory: Britt's son, Cole.
A New Generation
Cole is the latest Cummings family racer to hit the track. At 24 years old, he has winning a Wally as an immediate career goal, and he came close to accomplishing it at the recent Division 4 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in Dallas. Despite the good results early in his racing career, he remains appreciative and conscientious of the opportunities that have been provided to him.
"Being around racing my whole life, I already knew the concepts of racing, which is a huge help to know how to race and why we're doing what we do," he said. "Someone who starts racing on their own has to learn these things by themselves or hope that other people help them. It's definitely an advantage to be born into a racing family."
Even though his grandfather, uncle, and father have been there to guide and help Cole since he began racing three years ago, they have never taken it easy on him.
"When I started racing, they basically told me that I was being thrown into the sharks," said Cole, who had to learn to work on cars before he was allowed to race. "They told me, 'We're racing in NHRA or big-money bracket races. It's not going to be easy. Round-wins are not going to be easy. Whoever makes the least mistakes in one run is who wins the round.' "
Part of the learning curve through which Cole has been put through also includes never forgetting those who help you along the way.
"I've been taught to always try my best to do as much or more for our sponsors than they do for us," he said. "We are very loyal to our sponsors. Whenever we have a good relationship with a company, we work our hardest and try our best to maintain it."
Among the sponsors who have partnered with the Cummings family throughout the years are Moser Engineering, Renegade Race Fuel, Weld Wheels, Mickey Thompson Tires, and FTI Performance, among others.
"Moser Engineering has been with us since my uncle Slate won the Moser Shootout and has been with us every step of the way," said Cole. "We wouldn't be able to do what we do without our sponsors. We try to have both a business and family-type relationship with all of them."
The Cummings family will continue its seven-car assault throughout the 2018 season as they try to win a world championship. Slate is currently a contender in the Stock championship race, and all indications are that Cole will soon build on his recent runner-up.
"Slate always seems to be on top of his game no matter what the situation is. I really like his chances this year," said Britt, who also serves as a part-time promoter at Memphis Int'l Raceway. "Cole is a win waiting to happen. He drives exceptionally well for his age and for how long he has been racing. He has really paid attention over the years to strategies and how to race."
The family is fully aware that not far in the future the team dynamic might change a bit when Larry decides to hang up his racing helmet, but they know they will continue to have fun together.
"Dad doesn’t want to be the guy out there racing for too long. If he's at the track, he definitely wants to be competitive," said Britt. "And when he does hang it up one day, he’ll still be driving us in one of the rigs and coming with us.
"Seeing my son, dad, and brother race is probably better than me racing at all. In fact, having Cole as the third generation of our family racing is kind of why I'm still doing it. We all get to live our dreams through each other. For me, winning is someone on our team winning, not just me. As long as someone is turning on win lights, I'm excited; I don’t care who it is."