The first win for any driver is special, but Max McLaughlin’s break through NASCAR K&N Pro Series East NKNPSE victory at Watkins Glen International carried extra significance. “Mad Max” dominated by leading all 34 laps after starting from the pole while sporting a white and gold firesuit that honored his dad’s career. The victory was a major milestone, but it was the “who” and “where” that carried extra meaning for the McLaughlin family.
Max’s father Mike carved his place into the motorsports landscape in the northeast before he ever moved south to compete in the then-NASCAR Busch Series in the early 1990’s. Hailing from Waterloo, New York, Mike’s iconic Coor’s Extra Gold paint job and firesuit carried him to a NASCR Modified Tour championship in 1989 and numerous victories in the NKNPSE, then Busch North Series, in the early 1990’s. Max’s dominating landmark win at “The Glen” matched his father’s victory at his home-state track in 1997 in what was the NASCAR Busch Series.
The success Mike achieved with the Coors Extra Gold colors helped launch his career onto the national level in the NASCAR Busch Series full-time in 1994. The colors were always a favorite of Max’s and became a perfect way for him to honor his father’s accomplishments. Thanks to Mohawk Northeast, Top Tier, E-Z-GO, Rolfe Schnur Motorsports Marketing, Nitro Fabrication, Office Solutions Inc., Ideal Realty, and Simpson Race Production, the 19-year old was able to replicate Mike’s Extra Gold colors to adorn his Simpson firesuit.
Max debuted the tribute suit at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the site where Mike because the first driver to win both NASCAR Modified and NKNPSE races on the same day. Fast forward three weeks to WGI, Max was able to return Mike to a NASCAR victory lane for the first time since 2001 while wearing the colors his dad made famous. The McLaughlin’s made it a family affair with numerous family and friends present in victory lane as the Extra Gold colors were victorious once again after 26 years.
He’ll look to continue the McLaughlin family tradition of winning at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday evening and pursue his first-career NASCAR championship.