The racing hopes and dreams of two talented young men got a lot of mileage earlier this week in a three-day NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The first has a familiar last name. The second is well known only in his hometown but hopes to achieve the notoriety enjoyed by his better-known peers.
David Donohue is the son of the late racing legend Mark Donohue, a sports car champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. David has been competing in sports cars and now wants to advance to NASCAR competition. Donohue participated in the LVMS test session with Team Rensi, as a teammate to Randy Tolsma.
"I've been driving Dodge Vipers for the past three years," Donohue said. "Before that, I spent two years in the Super Touring series. I've never raced the trucks before, and at the moment the program is a bit up-in-the-air -- we don't have a primary sponsor yet."
Donohue attempted to get some stock car seat time last fall in the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, driving a car from the Rensi shops, but he was eliminated in an accident early in the race.
"With Team Rensi, I'm preparing -- and they're preparing -- as though we're going to run the full schedule," Donohue said. "We'll start the season and see how far we can go. It's a great opportunity.
"I'm making the jump from sports cars. It's a big jump. The trucks -- and all the NASCAR vehicles -- are so different from what I'm used to. There's a really big learning curve. I have to learn not only how to drive them and what they feel like, but what changes are relevant. These guys make changes to things that are totally alien to me.
"Fortunately, my teammate is Randy Tolsma. He's very confident in his own ability and has no problem sharing information with me."
"David's doing great," Tolsma said. "He's a great race car driver. He's smart, articulate and has a lot of experience. I'm just trying to give him a little idea of what the race track does. He's probably about as fast as I am, so there's not a whole lot I can say." While Donohue has thousands of miles at tracks as diverse as Le Mans and Daytona, to American street courses visited by the short-lived Super Touring series, Jon Price gained his limited fame in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., by fearlessly running five-abreast in his Chevelle on the high banks of Holland Speedway. After winning the Challenger division title at the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series facility, Price moved to the MBNA Cup Lite ranks and earned yet another championship.
Price, who has a major corporation interested in sponsorship, is testing with owner/driver Rick Ware's team in preparation for the 2001 season. For Price, the palm trees of Las Vegas were a welcome sight after being snowbound in Buffalo.
"I'm pretty much getting my feet wet," said Price. "We tested last month at Darlington. That was my first time in a truck. It's very exciting just to be here. To be competitive is a great feeling.
"Las Vegas is an awesome track -- really fast and smooth. Rick told us that the track is really wide -- you can go three-wide or four-wide. That's my kind of track. In my early days, we were used to running four-wide and five-wide -- sometimes even six-wide at times. At Holland, we were going 80 mph. Here, we're going 180 mph. That makes a big difference."
Price hopes to follow the path blazed by fellow Buffalo native Chuck Hossfeld, who graduated from the Modified ranks at Lancaster (N.Y.) Speedway and earned a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride with Roush Racing. Coincidentally, Hossfeld secured the ride in Jack Roush's truck following a test session at LVMS earlier this year.
"The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a place where I think I can do well," Price said. "It's a good starting point for my future plans."