By Cara Cooper
Published: 23 Jan, 2023
4 Minute Read
Winning a championship in any season of racing is an impressive feat.
But winning a championship in the 40th season of racing is just a little bit sweeter, at least for Todd Sherman.
Sherman isn’t sure how many titles he’s won at Ohio’s Limaland Motorsports Park, but he’s won the last three in the track’s Division I Northwest Physical Therapy UMP Modified class.
“The first night I got some damage on the car, I didn’t have that good of a night, and then from then on I think we won probably 50 percent of our races there,” Sherman said.
Sherman calls Limaland his home track. This summer will be his 20th season racing at the NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile dirt track in Elida, Ohio.
Sherman was first introduced to the sport by his mom, Lorelee Sherman, who raced cars built by her husband.
“She did pretty good. She raced when women weren’t really even allowed in the pits,” Sherman said.
Sherman said his mom enjoyed the people she met at the race tracks almost as much, if not more than, the actual racing. She was known for the sweet corn and strawberry shortcake she made for everyone in the infield on race days.
As one of 10 kids, Sherman and his siblings would pile into a van on the nights his mom raced and do work at the track. One sister was the trophy girl, some worked in the concession stand and he sold racing papers.
“The track promoter would pay us to clean the stands after the race was over,” Sherman said. “There were so many of us it didn’t take long. We would go through there and clean up and we all had some money to do what we wanted to with it because we worked at the race track. That’s just what we did.
“I could make $50 or $60 a night, and I was pretty happy about that as a kid. That was a lot of money back then.”
It was after high school when Sherman decided to really get into racing. At 19 he got a full-time job, but wasn’t fully happy.
“I got out of school and I started into my job and I came home and told my dad ‘I’m depressed,'” Sherman said. “He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m depressed. I’ve got to get up every day and go to work.’ And he just said, ‘You need a race car.’ I said, ‘You need your head examined.’
“He said, ‘No you need a race car. Do you have any money?'”
Sherman’s dad said to give him $1,500, and he left work early that day and came home that night with a race car for his son.
“Ever since that day, all winter long I can’t wait till summer, and then all week long I can’t wait until the weekends,” Sherman said. “And my depression was kind of gone at that point because it was like I had something to look forward to, I had something going on.
“I really didn’t want to race because it’s a lot of money, a lot of time and all that, but from that point when my dad said you need a race car, I had friends come over and say, ‘You have a race car? Oh, we’ll help you.’ I’ve always raced with friends. My friends have changed over the years because they get married and have kids or move away or whatever, but I still race with my friends.”
In the 40 years since the day he got his first race car, Sherman has 25 championships across different tracks and series. He’s also the winningest modified driver at Limaland Motorsports Park with nearly 60 feature wins.
It hasn’t always been easy for Sherman, though. After winning five straight titles at Limaland, the wins stopped coming. His son, Brennan, told him he needed to grow with the times in the sport and get more technical with his equipment and setups.
“I went like 2016, ’17, ’18, I didn’t win very much, and we were struggling and I was getting depressed because we weren’t doing very good,” Sherman said. “And once we bought a pulldown rig and started getting some of the equipment that got our car better, we started winning again. And I said, ‘Hey it’s the car, it’s not me. I can still drive.'”
Brennan, who also helps Sherman run a racing parts sales business, does most of the technical and setup work on the car. Sherman does the maintenance throughout the week. He’s found, “There’s a lot of pride in it when you build the car yourself.
“It does get frustrating,” Sherman added. “It’s a very humbling sport at my age, and these younger kids seem like they’re going to take over the sport, but I’m still able to win races.”
Sherman’s family is getting shirts made to commemorate his 40 years in racing that will feature pictures of his cars throughout the years.
He isn’t in any hurry to stop at four decades though. He’s already making plans to continue defending his titles at Limaland this summer.
“As long as my health holds out and I can still do it, I will definitely be racing at Limaland,” he said.