By Bobby Markos
The Carolina late model racing scene has been one of the most competitive pockets in the country for decades, and few drivers have put together a resume of accolades there quite like Kannapolis, North Carolina's Freddie Query. After dominating Metrolina and Concord Speedways on both dirt and pavement, Query used his success to springboard onto the NASCAR All-Pro tour, going on to win the 1998 season championship crown. On this week’s episode of The Dale Jr. Download, Query joins Dale Jr. and co-host Mike Davis in the Bojangles Studio to talk about his late model years, growing up in the Carolina scene, and the impact he’s had on the next generations of drivers.
Upon graduating from A.L. Brown High School in 1970, newly married Freddie Query didn’t have much of a career path in mind. He began attending Rowan Tech, taking every trade program he could. Eventually, he was enlisted to begin teaching the tech curriculum on a high school level, so he became a teacher and football coach at South Rowan High. He was admittedly a gearhead and was fascinated with engines. Naturally, a deep love for auto racing was inevitable.
During his time in school, he became involved with street racing, unbeknownst to his parents. In fact, Freddie often borrowed his father’s 1968 Chevy Nova to “go on dates”, when he was actually prepping it for racing action. After racing and often winning, he’d reset the car’s chassis and return it before his parents noticed. He began hearing of the living that “roundtrack” racers were making, and seeing how there was pay even for last place finishes and races that lasted longer than six or seven seconds, he was quite interested in joining the ranks himself. After building a home and discovering that his new neighbors were avid racing fans, he attended an event at Hickory Speedway and fell in love. Soon after, he and his neighbor built a car in a backyard garage and attempted a handful of events at Metrolina and Hickory.
Around this time, Query was playing horseshoes at Sandy Ridge Service with owner Patrick Jones, who offered to help fund a racing program. With this assistance, Query hit the ground running, and upon building a dirt car he found immediate success, winning his first outing at Metrolina. In the early 80s, Query took on the very competitive six-cylinder scene and found a lot of success, winning countless races at Metrolina and Concord, as well as World Championship 6-cylinder events at Log Cabin Speedway in Virginia and Lancaster, South Carolina. In 1983, he formed a long-time partnership with Coors beer and went on to win 28 races in 55 starts, including 12 runner-up finishes.
Freddie made the transition to super-late models at the end of 1984 when a friend offered him a ride in a handful of races. Coors decided to increase their sponsorship and Query built his own late models. With five races left in the '86 season, the Furr family decided to pave Concord Speedway. Freddie would win the last race on dirt and the first race on pavement but wanted to step away from Concord to concentrate on his dirt racing program. Coors began looking to minimize their support due to a lack of return on their dirt racing investments, so Freddie decided to go full-time pavement racing to keep them on board. This led to an era of dominance that still stands in the history books of Concord Speedway.
From 1988 to 1992, Freddie won four out of five track championships, racking up 31 wins in the process. During this period, he had a great rivalry with Jack Sprague that was rooted in a deep friendship formed from a trust bond through close-quarters racing. Query’s dominance of the high-paying Big-10 Series events would help progress his racing endeavors, and soon he began traveling to out-of-area events like the Snowball Derby. In 1993, he made his debut with the NASCAR All-Pro Series at South Boston Speedway and finished second. He would go on to win 17 times on the tour over the next decade, including a dominant performance in 1998 that saw him bring home nine victories and the season championship.
As his racing career started settling down, Query found involvement through building cars and providing consulting services to other drivers. Over the years, he provided help to Ernie Irvan, Hank Parker Jr., Brian Scott, Johanna Long, Kyle Benjamin, Harrison Burton, and many others. Thanks to this, he has become known as a highly-respected mentor figure, helping to shape the next generations of short-track racers.