Madden bought a used Dirt Late Model 11 years ago and has steadily progressed since then.
You wouldn't think that his 12 years experience racing Karts would have applied to his excellent Dirt Late Model career, but Chris Madden will tell that it certainly did.
"It was the nature of the Kart, with its lack of a suspension system, that taught me to feel the racecar," says Madden. "With a car with a suspension system, you can feel the car move against the shocks and springs. But with a Kart, I developed the capability to feel the speed. I also learned with the Kart that you had to be very smooth to run fast.
"It also works that way with Dirt Late Models where you also want to drive smoothly and try not to scrub off the speed."
Madden, 33, must have learned that lesson well in the Karts because he was very, very good in those speedy little machines. "I ran on both the dirt and pavement and ended up getting about 150 wins with the World Karting Association," he recalls.
He says, though, that Karting came to a screeching halt when his best friend started running a Street Stock at the local dirt track. "That lasted for about a half season, but I certainly knew it was something that I wanted to do. But in 1997, I pooled my funds and bought an 8-year-old Dirt Late Model and continued to run locally. Even won a couple races and got to run against Hall of Famer Buck Simmons."
The 1998 season marked Madden's first full campaign in a dirt car, and he started traveling to events when he could find the time. It was still a weekend deal as his full-time job was driving a log truck in the area around his hometown of Gray Court, South Carolina.
During those early years and later in his career, Madden was driving for nearby Barry Wright Racecars. Wright is a real fan of Madden's driving skills.
The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway has been one of Madden's best tracks.
"Chris has a lot of talent on the track," says Wright. "He drove my cars off and on for about 10 years. He is one of the few drivers that knows what is going on with his car. He knows what the problem is with the car and knows what it takes to fix it."
In 2002, Madden was driving a friend's car and was winning a bunch of races. But, he says, "Then the deal fell through and it left me hanging high and dry. At that time, I didn't know if my career was going to continue."
Fortunately, things really turned around in 2003. "I think it was the season that I came into my own. I won my first national race that year, an Extreme Series race at 311 Speedway. It was the most memorable moment of my career even though I have won bigger races later in my career."
A career-changing situation took place in 2004 when Madden befriended superstar Scott Bloomquist and drove one of his cars for another team. He won 11 races that season, with six coming with the Southern All-Stars (SAS) group. Another major accomplishment that season was a Sixth Place finish in the Eldora Dream, and things were really starting to come together.
He hit the road for the 2005 season and won the championship with the Southern All-Stars, where he notched half of his 10 wins. There were also a number of Top 5s in acquiring that title.
What was then his best season was topped in 2006 with another SAS title. His 15 wins came in both Barry Wright and Bloomquist equipment. There was also a big $20,000 win in the Gator 100 at Volusia County Speedway.
Then, there was a 16th Place effort at the World 100, but that wasn't the whole story. "I took the lead on Lap 28," recalls Madden. "The car was driving like a Caddy and I was passing everybody, but then I had a flat tire that was a great disappointment. I had set fast time and won my heat race from sixth starting place. I really thought that this could be my night, but it didn't happen."