Pratt selected the No. 0 because of his admiration for a fellowracer--and because 4 and 20
After his service stint in 1995, Pratt says he went to a Florida Proseries race and was impressed while sitting in the stands. In 1996, hebought a Late Model, and with the help of dad Richard, it was off toselected races. After being a rookie of the year, he topped it with thetitle last season, leaving one less goal in the state of Florida.
Back to this "Back Home in Indiana" saga: "We kind of talked about it,last year or earlier and kinda kicked it around, but we sat down andmade a rock-solid plan to do it this year," says Pratt. "You know, theyhave county fairs and tractor pulls and all kinds of stuff up there inTroy Groeb's area during the month of July."
Pratt says Groeb has a shop where they work on their semi trailers, anda spot will be cleared for the race cars.
"It's a racer's vacation, but we're taking the cars with us. Don't tellmy wife (Nicole, to whom he's been married two years)," Pratt laughs."She won't think that's very much of a vacation."
Indeed, she's employed at the University of Florida and is working onher doctorate degree, so her time is of the essence.
"She and my dad and crewchief (Jon Layerd, pronounced "Laird") won't beable to stay the whole month," Pratt says. "They'll stay two weeks, thencome home. We'll get them plane tickets to come back for the last racewe run."
Pratt is easily able to take the time off from his race car fabricatingbusiness in Anthony, Florida.
"Everybody talks about their part of the country being the toughest, soyou kinda want to go see how you stack up on their turf up north," Prattsays.
So what about the sponsor and Pratt's dad? And the guy who'll be callingthe shots, Jon "Jon Boy" Layerd, crewchief of four years?
"We discussed and everybody wanted to do it, a group thing as a team, sothat's it--we're going to do it," Troy Groeb says.
"We probably talked close to two years about it. They'll base the racecars out of my garage in Michigan, and everyone will live in acircumference of that place and we'll travel to the races."
"Well, we have three or four races we pretty well decided on, but wemight look around and see what else there is," Groeb says. "We mightalso try and get him in a dirt car, too; that would be fun. And it wouldbe great morale for our employees. I'm looking into getting a hauler andusing one of my semis to haul the cars around. I have plenty of driverswho can do that."
What about the this second-generation Pratt racer, Richard, on his son'sjourney?
"I think it's going to be a fantastic experience for my son and for ourteam, and I think he's going to make me very, very proud. I just can'twait to see him go to those tracks up there. I know he's going to bevery competitive," says elder Pratt.
"It's an opportunity a lot of people don't get . . . a lot of peopledon't get that opportunity to go and see how you match up against theguys who run up there. We'll see how good we are, right?
"I raced Dayton, Salem, and Winchester and places like that in SprintCars. It's really neat that Rich is going to have the opportunity.
"Troy made it all possible. They don't come any better than Troy Groeb.We've been really good friends as well as having him as our sponsor nowfor two years," says Richard Pratt.
And finally, crewchief Layerd: "It'll be really neat seeing some newtracks and new competition. I'm looking forward to it."
How come the Zero? How in the world did No. 0 come about?
Richard Pratt recalled his granddad raced a car on which the No. 4appeared up there in Indiana and the mid-Atlantic, but that digit wasalready taken in his former Florida Pro Series. So was the No. 20, whichappeared on the side of his dad Richard's car.
"I'd been a longtime fan of Buzzie Reutimman, so I asked about thedouble zero, but that number was also taken, so I settled on just thezero," he said. And that it remains to this day.