Kyle Cummings carrying on family tradition

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. Photo By: Troy Savanna

MINDEN, Louisiana — His father was one of the finest Late Model drivers the state of Louisiana ever produced, and now, he’s making his own mark on the sport while carrying on the family tradition of winning big races.

For 38-year-old Kyle Cummings, son of the late Russell ‘Rusty’ Cummings, winning the recent Mike Parker Memorial at Boothill Speedway was huge. Not just for the lucrative purse, but because his Dad was so good there in his era. This spring, Kyle already has a pair of wins in five starts, and he’s happy.

“Growing up, Boothill was just one of those places you go with the big concrete bleachers built into the hillside,” Cummings said. “I can remember crawling up and down those as a kid, and seeing my father and guys like Ronny Adams and Ricky Ingalls win a bunch of races there. The place is special to me.”

Cummings races in the talent-filled Ark-La-Tex region, where the big guns unload at every race he attends. I’ve written extensively about the level of competition in central and southern Texas, but make no mistake — it’s just as tough to win a Factory Stock feature at places like Boothill, The Rev and Chatham as it is at tracks like Texana Raceway Park, I-37 Speedway or Cotton Bowl.

“It’s very difficult to win in this region these days,” Cumming said. “There are 10 to 12 drivers that can win at just about every track we visit. I think if you can win a race down here, you can win anywhere.”

A 24-year veteran of the ovals, Cummings has driven just about every type of race car ever built.

“I had bought a Late Model back in the day from my father to get started,” he explained. “Once I got to doing well, he said it was time to take over my own team, get some sponsors and handle it all. I did that for a while, but eventually sold the car.

“I got into a Modified for about four or five years, and was really successful there. I caught the eye of a couple of car owners, and before I knew it, I was in a full-time Late Model ride. We had guys like Chris Simpson, Don O’Neal and Garrett Alberson running with us, and we had a great time.”

You may look at a current Factory Stock driver, and wonder about his background. Cummings is no average stock car racer, by any means.

“For about five years, this is what I did for a living,” Cummings said. “I drove Late Models for car owner Raymond Childress. That’s really where I cut my teeth, in a Late Model. I stopped that deal after my Dad passed away, but Raymond still helps us out a lot. That full-time Late model deal is tough.”

Just like his fellow racers over in the Lone Star State, Cummings has a brand of chassis he prefers and a good source for horsepower to power his beautiful No. B1 machine (his father also ran the B1, the B came from ‘Brenda,’ Kyle’s mother).

“We have a chassis built by Glen over at Lazer Chassis,” Cummings explained. “We have a new car being built by him with a few different things we want to try. There’s just not much you can do to one of these cars. We run a motor from PTS Racing Engines. We have a guy who keeps it tuned up for us, and he’s real good at it. Together, this chassis and engine combination works out very well.”

Despite the fact that Kyle’s father passed 10 years ago this September from ALS, there isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t think about him. Racing now in his honor is great, yet there’s still a void.

“Racing without my Dad around is very hard to this day,” he said as he fought back the emotions. “He was just an amazing man. He won the SUPR title back in 1998, when Late Model racing was still huge around here. I absolutely adored him, and he did so much for my racing career.

“He was the one who always kept after me, made sure I was racing and working at it to improve. We had a rivalry of our own in Late Models at one time, which was fun. I race today to make him proud, to continue his legacy of success, and to carry on this family tradition. It’s a source of great pride for me.”

Along with that amazing natural talent behind the wheel he inherited from his father, Kyle also has several key people working behind the scenes to keep his program on-track.

“I need to thank all the folks who make this possible for me, including my car owner and good friend Chad Callender, of Chad’s Auto & Exhaust; Debbie Callender, of Debbie Callender Realtor; J&J Motorsports, PTS Racing Engines, Childress Fishing & Rental, Mel Smith Marine, MoBags Suspension Technology, JRP and Meltra Chemical Solutions. I couldn’t do this without their support.

“I also want to thank my mother, Brenda, who supports my racing program and has since it began. She was always there for my Dad, and she’s always pulling for the B1 to this day. I love her more than I can say. I have such an amazing family and so many good people in my corner, they’re key to my success.”

Cummings says his family now plays a big part in his racing program, as well.

“Over the past year, racing has become more of a family tradition again,” he explained. “My son, Brayson, is 14 now and is good help on the car, my little girl, Breelyn, thinks I’m the best driver ever, and my wife of 17 years, Cheree, supports and enjoys racing now I think more than she ever has.

“Good friends and family is what really makes all of this possible, and worth the big effort it takes.”

With the sport now in high gear and tons of races ahead on his schedule, Cummings knows what he wants to accomplish. That taste of winning big races can be pretty addictive.

“When Chad and I put this deal together, we discussed all of the big races in Factory Stock,” he concluded. “So we really don’t chase points anywhere, but we’re after the big wins. The Mike Parker Memorial victory was a big confidence booster. Just like my Dad, I want to keep on winning races.”