Drew Herring Accelerates His Education On and Off the Track
CONCORD, N.C. -- To USAR Pro Cup Series competitors, Drew Herring is the circuit's points leader, but to his fellow North Carolina State University students he's just another engineering major.
A participant in Johnston Community College's 2+2 program, the 22-year-old Herring elected to study in North Carolina's Community College system for two years before transferring to the four-year college so he could remain close to his Benson, N.C., home and focus on his racing. August, however, marked his first semester in North Carolina State's mechanical engineering program, a move that has proven to be challenging.
"Since I've come up here to State, it's been completely different," Herring said. "It's definitely very time consuming. I don't get to go to the race shop at all anymore, because of the way my classes are."
Like most college students, Herring is trying to find the balance between schoolwork and a personal life. In this case, his personal life just happens to be that of a racer.
"I do probably three to four hours, at least, a minimum of homework at night," Herring explained. "It's tough, but I get all that done during the week and then I try not to have any on the weekend, during race weekend."
Even though Herring may not want to bring his homework to the track, the engineering concepts he's learning are invaluable.
"I definitely feel like once I really get into the heart of it and start learning some of those things, that I can apply them to the racing and help me out," Herring remarked.
An education in engineering will provide Herring with an on-track advantage, as well as help him in car preparation in the race shop. Today's race teams are being built around people who have varying mechanical engineering degrees.
"You know, the top three tiers of NASCAR nowadays, the engineers are the ones who set the cars up at the race shop," Herring noted. "So, having the degree and that knowledge can be nothing but a positive thing."
Although the path may not be easy, Herring is proof that racing and an academic education can co-exist. Throughout his childhood, Herring had a deal with his parents. He could continue to race as long as he excelled in school. For Herring's parents, that meant nothing less than a "B". Anything less and he couldn't race.
"The biggest privilege was racing, so my parents have definitely pushed me for it, but I also feel that education is important," Herring said.
With the last two races of the 2009 Pro Cup Series season drawing closer, Herring will have even more to balance. His second-place finish in the Sept. 19 Pork 200 presented by Cookies Sauces and Seasonings at Iowa Speedway gave him a slim two-point advantage over Clay Rogers, of Troutman, N.C., in the Championship Series standings. That means it's crunch time for Herring, because when he pulls into Rockingham for the Oct. 10 Aaron's 150 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service he will have to focus solely on the track, not on his university classes.
"It's just a little overwhelming right now," Herring said. "I think here in the next month or so, it will get kinda routine, it won't be half as bad."
After all, Herring has been executing the academic-racing balancing act for most of his life, and as far as he's concerned, it won't be a problem.
In addition to Rogers, Herring must contend with J.P. Morgan, from Ether, N.C., and Brandon Ward, of Winston-Salem, N.C., for the USAR Pro Cup Series title. Morgan trails Herring by a mere 10 points and Ward is only 38 in arrears.