(Mooresville, NC) Billy "Catfish" Parker, son of legendary fisherman, Hank Parker, Sr. and brother of NASCAR Busch Series competitor, Hank Parker, Jr. has taken a back seat to his driving career to serve an "apprenticeship" on the Nesquik Racing...
(Mooresville, NC) Billy "Catfish" Parker, son of legendary fisherman, Hank Parker, Sr. and brother of NASCAR Busch Series competitor, Hank Parker, Jr. has taken a back seat to his driving career to serve an "apprenticeship" on the Nesquik Racing team for 2001.
The Denver, NC native, age 24, started his racing career at the age of 12 racing go-karts. At age 15, Billy raced Legend cars and then switched to street-stock cars for three years. From 1997 through 2000, he drove late-model stock cars at various tracks throughout the Southeast, but considers his home track to be Hickory Motor Speedway. He started one NASCAR Busch Series event in 2000 at Memphis Motorsports Park where he qualified ninth (out qualifying his older brother, Hank) and finished 35th. He also started on ASA event at South Boston earlier this year, where he started second and finished seventh in his first outing at that track and the first time competing in an ASA car. However, he chose to take a step back from the driver's seat initially in 2001, to hopefully take a step forward in his driving career.
"I chose to take this step this year because ppc Racing offered me a home and a future," said Billy Parker. "I know they have confidence in me and I'm just trying to show them that I am willing to do anything to help further my career. Until we can put together a full package to get me in a race car, I'm going to learn as much from all avenues of the business as possible."
"I feel like he is serving an apprenticeship," said ppc Racing Owner and General Manager, Keith Barnwell. "Jeff Green worked for Michael Waltrip before he got his first full-time Busch ride. Before he got started, David Green was a crew member for Bobby Labonte. Billy could learn so much, not only from Jeff, but from Jason Keller too. Those guys do have different driving styles and techniques. If he can learn 50% of Jeff Green and 50% of Jason Keller he'll win a lot of championships.
"A lot of times when a guy becomes driver, they forget that they used to work on racecars," said Barnwell. "Like in Jeff's case, he worked on his own car. He also spotted for Michael Waltrip. Those are things that probably at the time, Jeff thought was the worst thing in the world that could happen to him. But they probably made him a better driver, because he's been on the other side. It's real easy to complain if a driver has never worked on a racecar, stood on a spotter's stand or worked until 2 o'clock in the morning. These are things that Billy will learn in a team atmosphere."
With ppc Racing, Billy has the opportunity to control the direction of his future. He has been working as a full-time mechanic with the Nesquik Racing team and traveling to the track each weekend. He has also been spending some time on the telephone and in front of marketing people. He spends time learning things from both the Nesquik Racing team and the Albertsons Racing team with Jason Keller and Steve Addington, but the majority of his education has been coming from working with Jeff Green and Harold Holly.
"Communication is probably the biggest thing I'm learning from Jeff and Harold," said Billy. "I've never seen a driver and a crew chief compliment each other so well. Their ability to communicate is remarkable and I know that is what makes them so successful. Everybody on the Nesquik Racing team are in tune to what is going on and I never really have been around people who were so focused on that. They see their goal in sight and they don't look away from it. I know a lot of teams are just working to get their cars done for the upcoming weekend and these guys are looking to win. This is probably the hardest working team out there. They just want to win.
"One big thing I have learned is to keep the team morale up. It is real easy to boost team spirits when you're a high authority, as say a crew chief, driver or a team owner. Whether it is a pat on the back or a bonus, it means a lot when the person is sincere about it. That's something that I keep telling myself that I need to focus on doing when I get into that position."
While Billy is still trying to make a name for himself in the Busch garage, he hopes that the recent success of his brother, Hank, will help give him some credibility as a driver.
"Anything that Hank does in a positive way pretty much helps me out," said Billy. "I'm sure Jeff got a little recognition and a little help because of his older brother David. Same for the Wallace's and the Labontes. Hank carries himself well and I think he's respected out there. He's known as a dedicated guy who wants to race and not a party animal and that helps me. When he performs well, it helps me."
"It is an opportunity of a lifetime for Billy to learn from Jeff and Harold; from two guys who are so good," said Hank Parker, Jr. "They won a championship last year and Jeff Green is the most experienced and the best driver in the Busch series. Harold Holly is one awesome crew chief who knows what kind of decisions to make. He's good in the pits and he's good at working on race cars. So, Billy is getting the opportunity to learn what to do on the race track, what to say on the radio, and then know how to fix it. He's getting the best of both worlds. It will accelerate his learning curve because he'll know how to mentally attack any given situation.
"Billy and I grew up racing together and he put his career on hold for me," said Hank Jr. "He worked on my race cars because our family didn't have the time or money to field two cars. Since he put his career on hold for me, I will be forever in debt to him and everything that he does. I feel like seeing him in the garage inspires me and he's got a lot of great ideas and I like to ask him what his thoughts are on a lot of things. To be as young and inexperienced as he is, he knows a lot about these cars and what it takes to make them go fast."
While Billy Parker is waiting for his shot behind the wheel, he is excited to be contributing to the championship Nesquik Racing team. Hopefully, the old saying, "good things come to those who wait," will ring true for this young hopeful.
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