After successfully finding victory lane in Mini Stock competition, Cole Quinton made the jump to ever-competitive Pro Late Model ranks for the 2023 campaign. Although the transition proved tough at times, it’s safe to say his performance through the season turned a lot of heads.
“It was definitely good,” Cole Quinton reflected. “Obviously the transition was tough – we’ve spoken about that. The jump to Pro Lates, specifically events like the APC Series are just so tough with the level of competition, especially since we were going up against like guys like J.R. Fitzpatrick and (Kyle) Steckly. Those guys obviously have a ton of experience around them and knowledge so that being the standard that you’re trying to chase is really tough. But I think we did a really good job.
“We started off rocky and worked through a little bit of bugs that we needed to work out, but once we got past the first quarter of the year, I thought we started making some hay and started really getting into a better place with the team and the car and the adjustment really started to be smoother.”
After starting off the season with a couple of top-10 performances at Flamboro Speedway, Cole Quinton began to find his footing behind the wheel of a late model in June with his first career top-five finish in weekly competition. From there, it seemed to get better with eight top-fives in a row heading into the final points night of the year.
“We were definitely putting up some good finishes – never got that exclusive first win, but I think we were really close a few times,” he commented. “We just didn’t have the things that fell into place that we needed. But overall, looking back at it, we had some really good runs.
“We were up in the top 10 at Flamboro for the second APC race and I definitely thought we had around top-five speed in the middle of that race. I think a few things that went in our favor during the season we would be looking at it completely differently.”
The weekly performance allowed him to climb in the standings, ranked second behind eventual track champion J.R. Fitzpatrick for multiple weeks. The veteran ultimately became friends with Quinton, offering both praise and advice for the rookie.
“I can’t thank J.R. Fitzpatrick enough – he’s always been great to me, ever since I made my transition to Pro Lates and always reached out a helpful hand,” Quinton praised. “I can’t thank him enough because guidance is something that I have struggled with a bit this year. This transition is hard and sometimes you need a mentor to look at and see what they’re doing and for them to teach you just how these things work. Figuring it out by yourself is great and all, but sometimes you need the guidance to know you’re doing things right or know how to fix an issue. So J.R. reaching out a hand, I couldn’t thank him enough.
“He was a competitor at Flamboro, a guy we were trying to chase in points all year, but he also understood the importance helping out the younger generation too. When you have guys like J.R. lending a helping hand, it really shows how good some people are in the racing community and keeps the younger generation alive. Without guys like him, maybe we wouldn’t see the younger generation thrive as much today as well. It’s great for the sport, and it was huge for me this year. It meant a lot to know he thinks I have some sort of capability in racing, but honestly just the knowledge standpoint too. I love learning from him and learning the ins and outs of Pro Lates and what I can do moving forward.”
Although he spent most of the year ranked second in the standings, he fell back to sixth on the final points night of competition due to unfortunate stretch of circumstances. It began before even the first green flag with the team discovering they had broken a right rear trailing arm mount as they pulled out for practice. After thinking their night was over, the team went to work in knowing “how much work we had put into the season and we just didn’t want to just lay over and let this take us out of it.” With a special hand from Tim Norris, they were able to get it fixed before the first feature of the night.
“Unfortunately, when we were scratching and clawing and getting our race tires on as I was still sitting in the car, we just missed a hood because you’re not required to run the hood,” Quinton explained. “The team just missed putting it on in making the car was just safe to be run and everything was well fixed and tight. That way starting where I was (on the front row), we weren’t going to be a danger to the rest of the competitors.
“We unfortunately just missed it and came over the scales and a few pounds too low so it was unfortunately to get a DQ in that matter. Obviously it was gutting with how the season had gone as a whole with how the night went but we ended up third that race, and third the second race. It was still a good night for us and it still would’ve been a good enough night to get second in points, but it is what it is.”
The 2023 Rookie of the Year looked to put that behind him going into the final event of the year with Frostoberfest at Flamboro a couple weeks later. He ran second until a restart saw him get freight-trained on the restart back to fifth for the rest of the event.
“Then the second feature hit, and all carnage broke loose being the last race of the year and people kind of lost their cool,” he admitted. “It obviously wasn’t the end we wanted and came home with a lot of broken parts at the end of the year and a lot to fix over the off-season, but it is what it is.
“Looking back on it, I know the effort we put in and I know we didn’t get second in points or maybe a better finish at Frostoberfest to show for our effort, but we know the speed we had later in the year compared to where we started in early May. So the improvement was the reward for us and as much as we ended up on a pretty low note, when looking at it from a result point of view, the speed shown makes up for that on the track.”
There was also another big positive in their first big show outside of their home track with a mid-summer trip to Sauble Speedway. For Quinton, he calls it the highlight of his summer, for family and result reasons.
“My grandpa was the only one in my family that had racing experience and he raced on Sauble when it was dirt,” Quinton explained. “The whole intent with going up there was just for my family to be able to see me race because a lot of that family from up there hasn’t seen me in a car before. So that was a lot of the motivation behind that. We got to go up a week before and run one of the weekly races thanks to Don Tremble, who really pushed us to do that. I can’t thank him enough because we ended up unloading at Sauble with a pretty decent car.”
Battling amongst their weekly competitors, Quinton showed his ability with a fifth and third in the pair of features, including leading a trio of laps. He returned for the APC Series event a week later, running just outside of the top-10 throughout.
“It was something that I wanted to do more this year; we just didn’t get around to it with all the circumstances that were around us,” Quinton commented. “But it was a confidence boost at a track I had never been at with a car that I had never been in really anywhere else and we took control and made the best out of it with the circumstances given. Just being at Sauble was cool; just being able to get my feet wet at a different place and see what I could do as a driver.
“Even as just somebody who’s having to adjust a car going to a different track from a knowledge standpoint was super beneficial to expand what I know by going to a different place because trying to run the APC series and going to different tracks every week is super important.
“So overall I’m happy with where we are after this year. Obviously the transition is super tough, but I think we did the best that we could do and that’s the best that we could ask for. I’m looking forward to going into next year with a little more of a plan.”
As of right now, the team has yet to solidify any plans for the season ahead, between recent family happenings and a focus being put on Quinton’s schooling efforts. However, the beginning pieces will be focused on ensuring the right people and plans are in place for success.
“Right now, we’re trying to see if we can put our team in a better position into next year for success all around,” Quinton admitted. “We didn’t get quite the results we wanted this year, but obviously a ton learned and great finishes so we’re hoping to improve on that. We don’t know, again, in what capacity we’re going to be next year. But whatever it is, we’re going to continue to work towards just being better and keeping on that path.”
His education will also remain a big part of the future racing endeavors and dreams, as he currently is enrolled in a Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Waterloo.
“When I thought about what I wanted to do for school, I really thought there’s not a lot of things I enjoy outside of racing,” he explained. “So I want a career in racing, no matter what position it is. So after talking to some people that are down south right now and have a role in certain race teams, a suggestion all around was go get a degree, whether it’s mechanical engineering, aero space, as that’s what a lot of the teams require. I don’t know exactly what my end goal is yet, but mechanical engineering has always suited my interest.
“So it’s a pretty fun program, competitive , but looking down towards the road that once I’m done my five years I’ll have a degree and hopefully go south and do something within racing because that’s what I love to do. I don’t when and where that will be exactly but that’s always been the plan and that’s why I am taking mechanical engineering today.”
If Quinton is able to put the pieces together and be on a NASCAR Cup Series team one day, it will be the ultimate dream experience. It’s an environment he has gotten to experience as a fan attending events standing on pit road, and fell in love right away with.
“I don’t think I realize it until I’m right down there in the pits, but I just love the environment,” he expressed. “That’s what I’ve always had a passion for, whether it’s’ working on my pro late or working on someone else’s car, or I’m just doing something that involves racing. It never feels like a task. It just feels like a hobby that I enjoy and I couldn’t imagine doing that work. That’s the dream right there – doing something you love and you don’t have to work a day in your life, right? It would be awesome to do that.
“Obviously, I want to continue the driving and we’ll see if I can balance that and we’ll see where it takes me.”
Cole Quinton Racing is proud to be supported by Stage it With Style, Just Foam It, Spira Fire Protection, Wheeler Construction, JT Excavating, Pita Pit Orangeville, Nick’s Journey, All Team Sports, Elma Steel, Hyde-Whipp Heating & Air Conditioning, Lay’N It Down Flooring, DJD Graphics, Brokerlink Insurance, Blue Triton, and Hy-Grade Steel Roofing.
Be sure to keep up with Cole Quinton all year long by following his facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/colequintonracing. You can also follow him at Instagram by following him at https://www.instagram.com/colequintonracing/.