Shelby Howard rookie season preview

16-year-old ready to juggle school and racing career Greenwood, IN (February 1, 2002) -- Having time for other things is tough when you are a racecar driver. In addition to the racing part of it, you have to test, attend meetings, meet with ...

16-year-old ready to juggle school and racing career

Greenwood, IN (February 1, 2002) -- Having time for other things is tough when you are a racecar driver. In addition to the racing part of it, you have to test, attend meetings, meet with sponsors, develop a good rapport with your crew, and talk to the media. Personal time is often pushed to the bare minimum. It becomes even tougher when you are 16 years old and have to go to school. Shelby Howard is aware of all of this, but he's prepared to take on the responsibility.

Howard made 5 starts in the ARCA RE/MAX Series last season, capturing two top-ten finishes, the first one coming in his series debut at Salem Speedway. This season, Howard and the CIMCO Racing team have committed to running the full ARCA RE/MAX season.

Howard is a sophomore in high school, but he isn't your average teenage student; he is home-schooled. He has a teacher who comes by the house Monday through Friday. He "attends" school from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 180 days of the year. He's been following this pattern for the past year and a half.

He studies the normal high school subjects: Algebra, English, Geography, History, Biology, etc. Recently, he even dissected a cow's heart -- with kitchen knives and a cookie sheet. Needless to say, his mother wasn't too thrilled about the idea. "His teacher keeps it interesting for him, especially since taking classes at home can get a little boring at times. I told them to do whatever, just be sure to clean up and put everything in the dishwasher," laughed Mrs. Tonya Howard.

"Shelby amazes us with his commitment and the things he's learning. He cares more about his schoolwork now than he ever has. Before, he tended to goof off a little too much, hanging out with his friends. Now he loves what he's doing and knows he has to get his schoolwork finished before thinking about racing. We feel this is the best thing we could've done for his education, regardless of whether he is racing or not," Mrs. Howard exclaimed.

This year his tutor will be traveling with him to the track whenever necessary. More will be demanded of Howard because of the number of races, more traveling, and the increase in media exposure. His school routine will have to have more flexibility.

"I'll have to study and do homework during a lot of my spare time this year," commented Howard. "I enjoy traveling to new places and will just have to focus on school on the way to the track and in the hauler, whenever possible."

Howard knows he is missing out on a large part of what normal teenagers do like going to football games, hanging out at the mall, and attending the prom. He thinks about it occasionally, but he's made the choice to focus on his racing career instead.

"My family and I made the choice to do this, so I knew going in I would miss out on those things. My friends understand and support me 100%. I'm just grateful for this amazing opportunity to race at my age. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is a great place to learn and gain experience. There are a lot of good drivers in the series and I know I'll enjoy racing with them," replied Howard.

Everything he does will be closely scrutinized to some degree for the next two years. Now with a minimum age limit of 18 years old in most of the racing world, Howard will be the youngest driver in a top-level series.

"I agree with the new rule, but I have no doubt I can be competitive," stated Howard. "I met all of the requirements and I was approved prior to the rule being put in place. I guess you could say I just lucked out."

Howard will be competing for Rookie of the Year honors and hopes to finish in the top five in points. "I'm probably looking a little bigger than I should, but our team is psyched and we know how good our equipment is. We know more than we did last year, so we're looking forward to a great season. Realistically, I'll be happy with a top ten in points."

Howard and CIMCO Racing open their 2002 ARCA RE/MAX season at Daytona International Speedway in the Discount Auto Parts 200 on Feb. 10th. The race will be broadcast live on Speed Channel with coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET.

-cr-

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Series ARCA
Drivers Shelby Howard