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DIRT TRACK RACING: Late model ace adjusts to nights in a 358 modified

FORESTVILLE — When York County driver Coleby Frye finally gets to Victory Lane at Big Diamond Speedway, it will not be a new experience.

After all, the late model veteran has won nearly 50 features over 20 years and he owns a track championship in 2019 at Selinsgrove Speedway.

Even this year, Frye is no stranger to the checkered flag. He has captured two late model features and leads the division points this year at BAPS Motor Speedway in York County.

Clearly, the Dover resident has upheld his family’s late model tradition pioneered by uncles Smokey Frye and Doug Frye, who drove cars owned by his Coleby’s father, Ron.

Yet Coleby Frye is not driving a late model at Big Diamond. Instead, he’s piloting the family number, F1, mounted on the side of a 358 modified.

“I became friends with Tim (Borror), the guy that owns this. Him and his brother used to race Grandview (Speedway) modifieds,” Frye, 39, said. “We were just hanging out one night and we were just joking about Tim driving.”

“And then, I was like, ‘I’ll work on the car if you get it.’ “

After a year helping Borror with his 602 crate sportsman, Borror asked Frye if he was interested in driving a modified chassis.

Frye said, “I’m like, ‘Let’s just go to Big Diamond every Friday. That’ll get you more seat time (in the sportsman) and that’ll let me see what they’re all about.’ “

Frye is quickly adjusting to the more powerful 358 modified. Though he failed to qualify for three features in his Bicknell chassis so far, he has also posted 13th- and 10th-place finishes.

“I race at the higher end of late models and stuff,” Frye said. “I ran (Borror’s) crate car here and there, but it just doesn’t have enough power. I like racing some cars that have some power and just see how I compare to the best guys around here,” Frye said. “They’ve got some good cars around here.”

But Frye, who works as a self-employed fabricator after he studied welding engineering at Penn College of Technology, also saw an opportunity to build his business.

“I build late models for a living. We’ve got a speed shop and that’s all we do,” Frye said. “All I do is building frames, fixing bodies and doing shocks.

“I did all of the work on these modifieds because we have a CNC (computer numerical control) machine that cuts it all out. Maybe next year, maybe I’ll slowly start to get some modfiied business going and build some modified bodies.”

With cars serving as rolling billboards, Frye has a good reason to learn how to drive the modified to top-10 finishes. This year, he’s driving not only Borror’s 358 modified, but also late models for two different car owners.

“I ran a sprint car for a handful of races,” Frye said. “We were geared toward late models, so it was really hard. We just weren’t organized and prepared to race sprint cars, so we decided to step away and focus on the late models.

“But the modified stuff is somewhat in the range of the late model. The front end deal with the open axle is pretty similar,” Frye said, adding, “I’ve always enjoyed watching them race. They always race well.”

Yet getting behind the steering wheel of his modified has still been an education.

“I don’t know how hard to race in traffic,” Frye said. “I don’t want to wreck either, but you need to be able to pass.”

As an example, Frye said he was rear-ended by former track champion Mike Gular several weeks ago during a Big Diamond race.

“A guy came down on me and I lifted. Gular never lifted and he hit me so hard, he knocked me out of the bottom clean off the backstretch,” Frye said. “Obviously, it was a racing deal.”

Frye said he is learning to use the front bumper to nudge other cars during the races.

“In a late model, if you hit them with the nose, you’re done. Your aero is done. You can’t run into anybody with your nose in a late model,” Frye said. “These, I’ve just got to learn how to race them, what’s acceptable.”

As Frye is learning to race a modified, he is also passing his late model expertise to others.

Driving for fellow late model standout Larry Baer, Frye is putting together one of Baer’s cars for sprint car standout Danny Dietrich for the Frank Sagi Tribute Race in July at Hagerstown Speedway.

But on Friday nights at Big Diamond, Frye is focused on the same goal which he has always had.

“I mean, I plan on winning a race in one,” Frye said of the 358 modified. “I just don’t know how long that would take for me to get.”