USAR: George Brunnhoelzl III to run for rookie honors

Longs, SC - Born with the last name Brunnhoelzl, his life's path was almost predetermined. However, George Brunnhoelzl III, a third generation driver from Long Island, N.Y., is taking a different track towards racing stardom than his father and...

Longs, SC - Born with the last name Brunnhoelzl, his life's path was almost predetermined. However, George Brunnhoelzl III, a third generation driver from Long Island, N.Y., is taking a different track towards racing stardom than his father and his grandfather did, moving from the modified ranks to the Hooters ProCup Series in 2004.

The 21-year-old driver, now living in Mooresville, N.C., will compete in the Southern Division of the Hooters ProCup Series and participate in the $75,000 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year program.

"There's no future to be made in the modifieds," said Brunnhoelzl III. "If you want to make a future in racing, you need to get in steel- bodied, Busch-style cars. The Hooters ProCup Series is a great series for that."

Although Brunnhoelzl III will compete as a rookie in 2004, it won't be his first time in cars with fenders or the Hooters ProCup Series.

Brunnhoelzl III competed in five Hooters ProCup Series' events last season, using the part-time schedule to learn the differences between driving a modified and a 3,300 lb., steel-bodied car.

"Driving styles are still the same. If the cars are loose, you drive it a certain way. If the car is tight, you have to drive it a certain way. That part is the same," said Brunnhoelzl III. "The biggest thing I'm going through now is that you can dive off into the corner as deep as you can go in a modified. With the ProCup car, you can't be doing that because you can't get it to slow down and turn. I'm learning to lift earlier and go in [the corners] easier."

Apparently, he's learning quickly.

Brunnhoelzl III, whose family invented the one-pump jack, posted back- to-back top-15 finishes in his last two races, including a career-best 12th at Peach State Speedway. Brunnhoelzl III nearly had three top-15 finishes in row, but a late-race incident a New River Valley Speedway cost him a possible top-10 finish.

"[New River Valley] was a big disappointment for us," said Brunnhoelzl III, who qualified 10th for the event. "It was our third race, and we were running decent. To have something like that happen just kills me. Our sponsors were there, so that didn't help."

Despite the disappointing outcome, Brunnhoelzl's sponsor saw the upside of the young hotfoot, and Island Construction will remain the primary sponsor for his rookie campaign in 2004.

Brunnhoelzl III will also have the help of good friend, and Hooters ProCup Series' veteran, Clay Rogers to help with the ProCup transition.

"I can't thank Clay enough," said Brunnhoelzl III. "I don't know a lot of the other guys [in the Series], but Clay helps me out whenever I need it."

Rogers' helping hand may stop in 2004, considering Clay's brother, Brad Rogers, will also be vying for 2004 ROTY honors.

"We've been joking about who is better," said Brunnhoelzl III. "Brad is a good driver, and it will be fun to race against him."

Brunnhoelzl III will also have stiff competition for ROTY honors from a bevy of other newcomers.

In addition to Rogers, Matt Carter, Steve Wallace, Brandon McCarson, and Jimmy Lang are all poised to make a run at the Southern Division rookie title, but Brunnhoelzl III seems ready for the challenge.

"I've got high expectations for this year," said Brunnhoelzl III. "I am hoping to be able to run in the top five or the top three this year."

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Steve Wallace , George Brunnhoelzl III