Q&A: Doug Coby On Team Ownership, Whelen Mod Tour, Racing Other Places In 2021, SRX Series And More

Doug Coby celebrates his lone 2021 Whelen Modified Tour victory in August at White Mountain Motorsports Park (Photo: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby closed out his first season on the series as a team owner with a third place finish in the 2021 standings. Coby had one win, six top-five’s and eight top-10’s in nine races in 2021 with his new team. 

Wednesday we talked with Coby about the 2021 Whelen Modified Tour schedule, how his plans for 2021 are shaping up, the possibility of competing with his team in events away from the Whelen Modified Tour and more. 

Question: Where do your plans for 2021 sit right now?

Doug Coby: My plans right now sit I would think pretty good. With the timing of the schedule coming out and the holidays and stuff, I still have to talk to kind of everybody on my side of things, from sponsors to crew and start checking off the boxes on who is back and who is not. I think every race team goes through that. After the season you’re going to have a little bit of die down where people kind of get back to family life, then the schedules come out and you just really have to get together and figure out who is really able to do it all again. Obviously being the car owner it’s a little bit different for me to make sure that I have everybody in place that I need to get the job done from a financial standpoint and a personnel standpoint. I think we ended the season in good shape equipment-wise. I feel like we had our first kind of a go at a season if you want, with nine races, to kind of get into a plan of action. Now it’s just a matter of just growing it from there. 

Question: What are your thoughts on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule for 2021? 

Coby: There’s always pros and cons to everything that has happened across the short track landscape, from NASCAR to Tri-Track [Open Modified Series] and the Open Modified shows. I counted 31 Modified Tour Type races on the schedule so far – not counting [Race of Champions Tour] or Western New York shows – I counted 31 that I could go to [in 2021] and none of them have big conflicts. I think that’s really cool. That’s a big deal to have a lot of races available to go to and they all seem to be like everybody is trying to pay a decent amount. Everybody is trying to save costs with things like only a certain amount of tires or only allowing certain pit stop sequences and stuff like that. And there’s a lot people trying to have these “$10,000 To Win” type shows. Hopefully the norm becomes “$10,000 To Win” shows and maybe some people will want to step up and do some $20,000 or $25,000 to win shows like a lot of the Late Model or Sprint car tracks are doing. I don’t know what those guys are paying out through the field, but I know a lot of the promoters for asphalt Modifieds are really careful to make it that the guy that finishes last still gets a reasonable check. With the Tour, it’s a schedule and I think we all have to remember that from the Tour standpoint anyway, I think it’s really good that they’re starting in April at Martinsville and not trying to do something sooner. I think it gives everybody more time to prepare and obviously it gives COVID vaccinations and COVID regulations time to evolve with the new presidency and all that. I think they’re making the smartest decisions under the circumstances. 

Question: Will You Be Looking To Expand To Running Events Away From The Whelen Modified Tour In 2021 With Doug Coby Racing? 

Coby: If I were to do that I would be exploring that purely for reasons to grow my team and give my sponsors exposure that they want. I think that the Tour schedule in and of itself is a pretty solid schedule. Going to Richmond is something that I’m beyond excited for, as well as going to Martinsville. But it came at the price of losing three Thompson shows and one Loudon show. So you’re not going to see me jumping for joy over the schedule. You’re going to see me kind of understanding from a business standpoint that there were a lot of tough decisions that people on both sides had to make, the NASCAR side and the short track side. … Pros and cons, I’m still waiting for the day when something comes out that’s only positive. But I’m kind of looking at trying to be more optimistic and give some of the people who worked really hard to make things happen the benefit of the doubt and trust in the process a little bit instead of reacting like a lot people really want to see people do these days on social media. I think people want to see the negative reactions and what not. There are a lot of moving pieces because of the government and COVID and NASCAR and short tracks and the changing landscape of how people make money in the business. I feel like the fact that there are races is a good thing. … I’m not overly concerned about the economics anymore of why people in the business side of things from the track to the promoters to NASCAR as an organization, I’m not really in the business anymore of being overly critical of the decisions they make because those are decisions they make for their business model. At this point I feel like positivity is a better route. The fact that people are talking about more Modified races at different places is always good to me. 

Question: Would you entertain the idea of running the tour full-time and looking at other events above and beyond or would you think you would run the Tour part-time and build a sort of hybrid schedule? 

Coby: I’m still building up my equipment and I need to ensure that I can keep my commitments to my sponsors for where they want me to go. The thing that people don’t realize about the Modified Tour is when you’re a top-20 car owner on the Tour you typically automatically get a $500 bonus for starting a race. So there might be a $750 minimum to start, but you can add $500 to that for anybody that is in the top-20 in points. It’s all that stuff like that that makes going to Tour races work. The bonuses that NASCAR offers for winning the pole or leading the most laps or the fastest lap and all of that. Those are between $500 to $700 bonuses usually for every race. You can really take the payout that is posted and really bump it up to the point where it becomes pretty solid like when you sweep a race, like win the pole and lead the most laps and win a race. And also the end of the year points fund is pretty robust relatively speaking. Compared to nothing it’s pretty robust. There aren’t any other series’ or Open shows that are offering the type of point fund that a top-five finish on the Tour pays out. And that’s something that you have to support the series every week, to get things like starting car owner bonuses or point fund money at the end of the year. Those are really hard numbers to figure out sometimes. You can only go off of what your average performance has been. Luckily for me I feel anywhere between first and fifth for finishes and also for points finishes is something that I can kind of lead off from. There’s the sponsor commitment for where they want you to go do, there’s the desire of the team and the driver and the owner to figure out how much you really want to be killing yourself to race. Some of the races on the schedule are like race Friday at Stafford in an Open show then Saturday at Riverhead. I know like the Goodale teams will do that and some other teams will do that and Tommy Baldwin Jr.’s team will probably do that, but I just don’t know if my team is at that stage yet where we can pull that off. So yes, I’m looking at everything I can do to keep my sponsors happy and get exposure for my sponsors and my team and grow what we have and work within the rules packages and the tech stuff. The biggest thing to me about the Open shows is that there’s nobody out there that compares to the tech that NASCAR makes us go through. I’m really only interested in racing against a level playing field. Not that I have serious doubts about the capabilities of other places and how they’re conducting things, but I know how NASCAR does their stuff and I’ve run their stuff long enough. You just have to feel like when you’re showing up with really good equipment that it’s equipment that can go compete for these advertised purses. And that’s something right now that I don’t have a tremendous amount of confidence in across the board where I can say are these races worth going to with the equipment that I currently own? That could change over time. I’m building. I have the very basics of a foundation and I just have to decide how big of a house I want to build. 

Question: Stafford Speedway announced recently that they will host the SRX Series in 2021. It’s been mentioned that the series will look to add local drivers to the lineup and your name has been mentioned as a candidate. Is that something that you want to do? 

Coby: I think anybody would want to be a part of that. Just the general buzz of that series and the idea of the cars being maintained at the same place and kind of being an IROC type race, it just sounds cool. I would love the opportunity to race at Stafford and/or elsewhere with them if presented. They have a lot to figure out I’m sure with their model and who they want to present as far as the stars they have already signed up already versus the talks of some short track racers being involved in some way shape or form. 

Question: Were you surprised Stafford was one of the tracks chosen for the series? 

Coby: Not at all really. I know when it got announced and they started talking about going to short tracks across the country, you know they have to go to short tracks that have the capability of hosting events of that size. And with the infrastructure at Stafford, Ray [Evernham] was very quick in his early interviews to mention ‘short tracks like Stafford’. It was always Stafford and IRP or tracks like that. He was always mentioning it. When I heard Stafford mentioned more than once I’m sure the Arute’s were smart enough to jump on that and find a way to make it happen. And I’m not sure that other short tracks can present the package that Stafford can present for what they’ve hosted in the past and who has come out of there from the broadcasters to the drivers to the mechanics. …. I’m not surprised in the slightest bit.




  2. Wait, what? Nascar pays their drivers money?? You don’t say…Purses, Bonuses, Point Funds. Bonuses after every race. You don’t say…Over $10,000 to win every race. You don’t say…

    Profound words from the 6 time champ. Do JB next!

  3. The Atomic Punk says

    Oh Doug. You and your Facts.

  4. Well that was refreshing to read. An entirely different take then what we customarily bandy about here in the forum. And Coby is just so smooth and easy to read with no sharp edges.
    Coby with all his championships is inexorably tied to the NWMT and Mayhew Tools has to have the national exposure NBC Sports Gold and NASCAR get them. Does he represent the down field view when he ruminates on the NWMT we just don’t know.
    He nailed the point on tech didn’t he? That one his home. Ouch!!!
    It’s a shorter schedule but it’s aggressive geographically, professional and big time. Coby is big time as far as modifieds go. NWMT alive and well as far as he’s concerned and that’s good news for fans even the ones that hate NASCAR.

  5. He knows what he’s capable of behind the wheel and expects top 5 runs and wins. Open shows he also knows that inferior drivers could best him with cheated equipment and that makes him look like less of a driver.

    Winning on Wmt is the hardest of any series to do, yet a guy that can’t win on Wmt was ranked #1 of short track drivers in the region? This is like baseball players that were known to use performance enhancers being placed ahead of guys that performed year after year with no question marks on resume.

  6. Where in the article does it state that the WMT specifically pays over 10k to win “every” race JD? I did not see that anywhere. I see this reference; And there’s a lot people trying to have these “$10,000 To Win” type shows. Hopefully the norm becomes “$10,000 To Win” shows.

    Maybe I missed it or is this an assumption on your part he means WMT?

  7. Not all at once. LOL

  8. solstaseson says

    Racing a Modified is quite similiar to going to a Casino alot, You can make a small fortune if you have a large fortune to start with, Too bad the days of earning a living racing and building Mods is over, Richie Evans did it,,

  9. Pre covid it was 10k most races with bonuses close to 12k NHMS way more and 75k at the banquet what Modified series comes close?

  10. Good read, shares some perspective from a car owner, as well as driver.

  11. just Me - The Original says

    Richie had a great sponsor, Jean Dewitt paid for all his motors, chassis and tire bill. I don’t see any current sponsor that comes close to that.

  12. Who, besides himself, did Richie build cars for? The Fire 44 cars were an RE design but we’re built by Andy Johnson, as we’re most RE cars for Stafford Riverside and Thompson.

  13. Rob p asked:

    Who, besides himself, did Richie build cars for? The Fire 44 cars were an RE design but we’re built by Andy Johnson, as we’re most RE cars for Stafford Riverside and Thompson.

    Don Howe 34 on Long Island was built by Richie as was the 71 Tom Greene car in NJ in the late 70s. M1 Mike Murphy had a Richie car as did one of the Truex brothers in Jersey and Art Barry had a Richie car as well. I’m sure there were probably others, those are just some I remember off the top of my head….

  14. Well, one thing for sure is that Colby loves a microphone. He’ll never shy away from a microphone. Once a salesman, always a salesman. Somethings just won’t sell.

    Say what ever and as much as you want, it comes down to results on the track.

    Colby’s answers to simple questions are longer than Insipid Sybil’s pointless tomes and diatribes.

  15. I do believe I read somewhere Richie Evans was an heir to part of the Otis Elevator fortune, So I dont believe,, if thats true,,,,,, he was ever w/o his own money,,,good sponsorship or not, may he rest in peace

  16. Phil A, don’t forget Reggie had one as well.

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