If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, and taking on the E-mod class at Pennsylvania's Eriez Speedway and New York's Stateline Speedway can be a way to speed up the learning curve. Our May Young Racers Club winner jumped into the fray full tilt in 2005. Steven Simon is a third-generation racer who has taken the lessons from 2005 and put them right into the '06 season preparation.
The 18-year-old racer came out of the grandstands to go into the Go-Kart ranks. He has been around the sport most of his life. His grandfather owned cars and his father did some racing as well. After a brief hiatus, the family got back in when Steven showed an interest in Karts. He found success in the ranks, earning a championship in the process. Meanwhile, word was out that an E-Mod was for sale. That car became the Simon family effort for 2005.
Like most racers, Steven had to listen to the critics who thought the jump from Kart to E-mod was too big, but the critics seldom know what they are talking about. There were no expectations of setting the world on fire, but the mechanical problems dimmed a lot of hopes. Broken bellhousings led a list of setbacks that plagued the team through most of the year. By the end of the season, the bugs had been worked out and performance results showed it. While the bulk of the season was focused on the local Eriez Speedway, Steven was also able to venture to nearby Stateline toward the end of the year. He had moved from Seventeenth to the Top 5 late in the race before being caught up in a mishap that led to a disappointing finish.
For 2006, preparations are underway in the chilly Pennsylvania winter to get the car ready for the season ahead and some possible travel. The car used in 2005 will be raced again in perhaps its last season under current ownership. Steven credits his family and sponsors, including GAR Construction, CTR Trucking, and Chipper's Tavern as well as Hurricane Motorsports, for the help.
As the winner of our Young Racers Club drawing, Steven will be receiving a $250 product certificate from Sunoco Race Fuels. Find out more about Sunoco at www.racegas.com.
The competition at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is tough in any division. The Ray Hutson Chevrolet Sportsman class is a good example, and that's the class where our latest YRC winner plies his trade. Boomer Olson is a 19-year-old racer who meets up with some of the best weekly racers on a regular basis. The '05 season started off on the right foot as Boomer topped his heat race. Two weeks later, he scored a Second in the heat and moved to a Fourteenth-Place run in the feature. A pair of Top-15 runs in May led to increased success in June, including a Fourth in the B feature and a Fourth in the Bud Dash. As July wound down, Boomer parked victorious in the running of the Bud Dash. His first Top 10 in the feature came the following week, but the progress was not done. After finishing Tenth on August 6, he came home as the runner-up in the main on August 20. His best qualifying effort came on September 3, timing Fourth among the competitors, but that race was wiped out by rain.
Boomer drives an '88 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, powered by a B&B Racing Engines 355ci engine, generating 325 hp. Al Olson is the car owner, with Marty Smith serving as crewchief. Crew help also comes from Keaton Hilby. Sponsors for the '05 season included Culver's, Village Market, R.A. Transport, City Styles, Shari & Shaggy's Party Barn, G&F Distributing, Effinger Equipment, American Legion Post #138, Degenhardt Garage, Carol's Drift Inn, and Collision Specialist.
As the winner of the April Young Racers Club drawing, Boomer will receive a $250 certificate from TCI.
There is often more to a racer than what we see on the track. In the case of Jeremy Colangelo, there is a caring young man who is using his skills to benefit others.The 19-year-old Sanford, Florida, resident competes at Orlando (Florida) Speedworld in Legends Cars, racing in the Pro division. Every time he crosses the line beneath the flag stand at the track, someone else benefits from his work.
This year, Jeremy has coupled his racing effort with a fundraiser to benefit the Children's Miracle Network (CMN). For each green-flag lap he races, Jeremy donates $1. Several of his sponsors match the effort. Some even donate $3 for every lap he leads. As of November 7, 2005, Jeremy turned 1,248 laps and led 167 of them. Roughly, that's somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 going to a good cause.
"I've been involved with CMN for about 10 years," Jeremy said. "My family has always been involved. We would do fundraisers and help out. I've got a trophy here from June 1997. I'm very competitive, and they had a competition to see who could raise the most money. There were about 30 kids in it. I pressure washed, pulled weeds, whatever I could do to win."
Involving the racing effort seemed a natural way to continue to support CMN. The fruits of his labors were recently brought home when he learned of the plight of a middle school classmate who had suffered through some health problems and benefited from the CMN programs.
On track, Jeremy started as a BMX racer, moving into Quarter Midgets. After competing in events such as the Grands in Pueblo, Colorado, and a specialty course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he ran another year before going to the Legends Cars. A limited effort in 2003 was followed by a full-blown effort that saw four wins and 18 Top 5s as Jeremy was the highest finishing Semi-Pro at the track. His '05 effort included seven wins and 15 Top 5s (the season hadn't ended at this writing). He also participated in the Hardee's Summer Shootout at Lowe's Motor Speedway and was invited to be part of a Legends race at the December Mopar PRI Sprint & Midget Classic.
Jeremy has dedicated his '05 season to cousin Justin, who passed away. He realizes the importance of everyone who assists him, including Granny and Grandpa Don, his mother, father, brothers, and cousin Brandon. Jeremy also acknowledges Rick Carelli, who has served as a source of inspiration for his racing.
As the winner of our March Young Racers Club drawing, Jeremy will receive a $250 certificate for purchase of products from Comp Cams.
Our latest winner in the Young Racers Club is a true testament to the idea of a racer coming from the grandstands onto the track. Amber Coffman was a race fan who watched the competition, but she got the urge and seized the opportunity. It must have been quite contagious, because her father became a racer at the same time.
Amber competes in the Front Wheel Drive division at Boone Speedway in Iowa, home of the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals each September. "I was a big race fan, and they would have drawings where you could get out and drive a car," Amber related. "I won some of those drawings and got the chance, and I decided to get my own car."
The '05 season marked her first full year of racing in the FWD class. There are no sponsors for the team as yet. Amber gets help from her father, who is a Dwarf Car racer, and her fiance.
"It's awesome. I like it," says Amber of her racing.
Her best finish of 2005 was a Sixth-Place run in the growing class. Amber assists in the work on the race car; sometimes there's a lot. A week before the season championships, she rolled the machine. She was not hurt in the incident. She is also attending school to become a mechanic.
As a woman racing in a male-dominated world, Amber tells the girls who want to go racing to go for it. "Don't let the guys intimidate you," she offers.
As the winner of our February Young Racers Club drawing, Amber will receive a $250 certificate for purchase of products from G-Force Racing Gear.
There are only 24 hours in a day, but Jason Taghikhani manages to fill most of them. The winner of our Young Racers Club drawing has put together an impressive resume on both sides of the pit gate in just a short amount of time.
His uncle was a Late Model racer at Wisconsin's Slinger Super Speedway for 30 years, but Jason's interest was only slight until his later years of high school. During the summer, he dropped his football program and then started to develop a race team. In this case, starting a race team meant doing it the right way-by earning it. Jason poured money earned at his job into buying a truck, trailer, and car to go racing. As a result, he missed the first half of the season to get the Street Stock on track. At the end of the year, the track dropped the class, forcing him to look elsewhere for his racing thrills. In 2005, he stepped up the program to become involved with the Mid-American Stock Car Series, a highly competitive group that hits tracks in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.
"It's tough," says Jason of the traveling circuit. "Now you have 20 guys who can win, and you're not guaranteed a starting spot like you would be at a local show. You run with guys who have experienced these tracks before, and you're seeing them for the first time. They have lots of experience."
In mid-September Jason made his mark. He was Second in the points with a handful of races left and was leading the drive for Rookie of the Year.
So far, he sounds like a typical racer, right? Here comes the good part.
Jason is a full-time student who is a senior at Marquette University. He is a declared mechanical engineering major, the president of his SAE (Society of Automotive Engineering) chapter, and he also works a full-time job. So now you have commitment to work, school, and a race team. Summers aren't so bad, but when school starts again, it gets pretty hairy. "Toward the end of the racing season is when we have our first exams," Jason pointed out. "I'm the kind who needs to spend time studying, and it's hard to do when you're working on the race car, especially if it was wrecked."
Jason will take his education (His mom insists he finish and get his degree) and his racing experience and put them together to see what the future holds. "I want to take it as far as I can," he says.
As our latest winner in the Young Racers Club, Jason will receive a $250 certificate from Aero Race Wheels.