Three-time USAC Silver Crown winner Shane Cockrum has a new ride for the seven dirt races on the 2021 USAC Silver Crown schedule. Not only is it a new ride for the Benton, Ill. native, it’s with a brand-new team and car to the series, the BLS Motorsports No. 71.
Cockrum’s most noted success in USAC Silver Crown racing came with Hardy Boys Motorsports, with whom he spent the entire decade of the 2010s racing for before the team’s patriarch stepped away from the series at the end of 2019 and, for all intents and purposes, gave the reins of the team to Cockrum.
While Cockrum found work in the Five-Three Motorsports No. 53 for 2020, finishing in the top-ten in all three dirt starts and finishing 8th in the standings, the Hardy Boys’ operation remained in waiting inside Cockrum’s race shop with its future soon to be decided. With the addition of sponsor, and now first-time car owner, Ben Clements, an avid fan and racing supporter, he and Cockrum created the foundation for the series’ newest team, which will make its debut with the first dirt race of the 2021 USAC Silver Crown season, the 66th Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on May 27.
“I was fortunate enough and (Hardy) was kind enough, to essentially give me the entire race team,” Cockrum revealed. “So, for the last year I’ve had the entire race team in my shop. About that time, one of our sponsors, who’s been an outstanding sponsor, Ben Clements of Ben’s Lawn Service, came on as a sponsor, and through him and Hustler Turf Equipment, we got together and developed a new team. I knew he was wanting to build something, and we were able to put it into place. Anybody we can bring into our series and our sport is huge. It’s important to the future health of our series, and I’m pretty pumped about it.”
The No. 71 is special to Cockrum. They’re the same numerals he utilized during his two most recent USAC Silver Crown victories, the 2015 Sumar Classic at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and the Ted Horn 100 at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds later that season, a victory he repeated from the year before.
With Five-Three in 2020, success came back to Cockrum, the Benton, Ill. Fire Chief by trade, after two final seasons with Hardy Boys in which engine problems plagued the team’s performances. With a new Maxim engine, a new Kistler engine and a familiar crew ready to power the BLS Motorsports team in 2021, Cockrum feels they can be contenders right off the bat.
“USAC Silver Crown competition is always stepping up, and it’s probably never been tougher than it is with the amount of quality equipment that’s out there right now,” Cockrum stated. “We knew, that in order to win races, we have to have top-tier equipment, and I feel like we have the right people on our side, I have a lot of confidence as a driver, and I do most of my own wrenching on it, obviously with the help of my entire crew that came over from the Hardy Boys Motorsports team. I think we have a lot of people that have a lot of experience, which will allow us to jump straight in and compete for wins.”
Though moving on, Cockrum looks back on his tenure with Five-Three Motorsports with fond memories, and an experience that he admitted helped rejuvenate his racing career.
“Being able to hook up with (team owners) Mark, Matt and Aaron Schuck to try to continue the success that they had been having, it was cool to jump into something of that caliber and we were able to put together some good runs and have a lot of speed,” Cockrum recalled.
“Honestly, we probably thought the deal was going to be a little longer, but we’re all on great terms,” Cockrum continued. “Like we told each other when we came together, whatever happens, whatever the timeframe may be for us, my goal is to make your team better and I hope your goal is to make me better. I think when we look back on 2020, we did exactly that. I’m super, super thankful for those guys. They’re a big part of it, and in some ways, helped revitalize my career. Things are exciting and looking up again.”
Cockrum’s sponsors on the BLS Motorsports #71 for the 2021 campaign include Hustler Turf Equipment, Ben’s Lawn Service, Lakeland Square Laundry, Engler Injection, Simpson Race Products, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Hardy Boys Motorsports , Jackson's Taxidermy and Jamie Shotts.