Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: Sean Gaddis carrying on tradition of oval success

DIANA, Texas — Take more than a passing glance inside the world of Modified racing around the Great State of Texas, and a certain family name keeps appearing. A father and his two sons have made their mark on the division, enjoying success in a highly-competitive arena while touring the country. 

For 24-year-old second generation driver Sean Gaddis, high-stakes Modified racing is a way of life. Sean, father Kenny and older brother Steven are always a threat to hit the podium. Sean earned his first career American Racer Modified Series (ARMS) this year, and has seven top-fives in 13 starts. 

“The car has definitely been fast and consistent this year,” Gaddis said. “We’ve been making a few small tweaks to the setup, trying to measure how it reacts and of course searching for a little more speed. In this division, you’re constantly looking for any little advantage over the competition.  

“That win at Ark-La-Tex on April 26 was special for a number of reasons. First, that’s where I started racing, but had never earned a win there. Second, I’ve been trying to win an ARMS feature for a long while, and finally got it done. So to win that event at that specific track was beyond satisfying for me.”

That victory could have and probably should have come in 2023, when Gaddis was on a roll. 

“Last year, I was leading the ARMS point standings up until about two-thirds of the way through their schedule. But then we got off the mark just a little and I handed the lead over to eventual champion Joe Duval. I wondered if I was going to win the title without winning a feature, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Gaddis got an early introduction to racing, yet it wasn’t in the form you may think. 

“My Dad has raced for over 30 years, so racing is all I know,” he explained. “I got my start at age 3 in motocross. I did that for about 10 years, but after I had an accident, Dad said it was time to put a roll cage around me for protection. So at age 13, I moved over to dirt cars driving a Pro Mod. 

“I only ran about half a season in that class, it just wasn’t really going all that well. I was just a kid, getting caught up in wrecks, and causing a few myself. So Dad figured it was time to get me into a Modified, and I’ve been racing one ever since. There’s really nothing that compares to these cars.” 

No matter where he unloads around Texas, Oklahoma or Louisiana, Gaddis faces stiff competition. 

“The Modified division is stacked full of top teams,” he said. “Obviously when we compete on the USMTS tour, those guys are the best in the country. I was told to drive it wide open on the edge of disaster, and if I wrecked it, go home, fix it, then come back and drive it wide open again. 

“If you aren’t up on the wheel and getting the most out of your car with USMTS, you won’t make the show. Even when we run with ARMS, there are a ton of great teams on that tour, as well. Heck, even a weekly show at Ark-La-Tex draws some stiff competition. Modified racing is ultra-competitive today.”

When Gaddis puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he straps into a very fine machine. 

“The car I drive is a 2023 MB Customs chassis,” he explained. “My Dad is driving a new 2024 model, and it doesn’t have many laps on it. We have a new car on order; once we get it during the off-season we’ll get it ready and I’ll be in that one next season. These cars are some of the nicest on the market. 

“As for horsepower, I have always run motors from PTS Racing Engines. I think I’ve had maybe one minor issue in a decade with PTS; that kind of reliability is truly priceless. We have all kinds of power, so this combination of chassis and engine works well for us. I’m very happy with it.”  

Along with his decade of experience and top-notch race car, Gaddis has a ton of support in his corner. 

“First off, I need to thank my wife and two baby girls, along with my Mom and Dad,” Gaddis said, “I have a very supportive family, they put up with this stuff a lot and I’m truly grateful for all they do.  

“I also want to thank my great sponsors, including Transmissions Unlimited, Big Texas Auto Parts, Genuine RV and Powersports; Sonny Melton’s Self Storage, TNT Auto Parts; Jots Rentals, Day Motor Sports; Shields Performance, Fast Shafts, Knockin’ for Jesus and McWhorter Electric.”  

With summer here and tracks in high gear, Gaddis has a few events circled on his 2024 racing calendar.

“This coming weekend we’re racing at Ark-La-Tex,” he explained. “The following week, we’re up at Outlaw and Tri-State Speedway in Oklahoma. Then we’re off a weekend, then we run a two-night ARMS show at Sabine and Boothill. After that, it’s another ARMS event at 105 Speedway. 

“We leave on August 27 to go up to Deer Creek to run a few nights there. Fortunately, the longest trip is five or six hours from home. So there are no all-day drives in store, which helps. With a new baby and two kids now, we stay local when we can. I’m just really enjoying my family and racing right now.” 

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer
Photo by Chaz Brzeski