WKA: Gafrarar - Penn State graduate riding high

For Chuck Gafrarar, there is nothing more fun than driving a kart. Gafrarar, who splits his driving time between the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series and the World Karting Association's tour, will return to his home state of Pennsylvania next weekend...

For Chuck Gafrarar, there is nothing more fun than driving a kart.

Gafrarar, who splits his driving time between the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series and the World Karting Association's tour, will return to his home state of Pennsylvania next weekend when he participates in the WKA's Tomar Nationals at the BeaveRun Motorsports Complex in Wampum.

Gafrarar, a 1991 Penn State graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, has been a fixture on NASCAR's Goody's Dash Series since 2002, when he won the circuit's Rookie of the Year award.

To Gafrarar, the karting circuit is a return to the grassroots style of auto racing. It is much different than NASCAR, according to Gafrarar, who enjoys the kart series much more than the NASCAR circuit.

"It's much more enjoyable for me," he said.

"I've been driving on the NASCAR circuit for a while now, but I've never lost my love for karting."

Gafrarar also believes that his time on the kart circuit has helped him improve his overall driving.

"I think karting makes me more of a complete driver," he said. "It's kind of like exercise. Karting helps me build up my strength as a driver."

His concern with improvement on the karting circuit is overshadowed, though, by his love of the sport.

"I never really lost my knack for karting," he said. "It's more of a pastime for me. I get to come out here and spend time with a lot of the people I grew up with. It's a lot more fun for me."

Gafrarar, who has been racing since he was a child, always had a dream of becoming a professional racer. To win the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award was a culmination of years of hard work and dedication.

"I was really surprised to win," he said. "It was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season to win the award, so to accomplish it felt great. It's a real testament to my whole crew and all the hard work we've done as a team."

Gafrarar looks forward to coming home and racing in front of his friends and family.

"It's great to come home," he said. "It gives a lot of people a chance to see me for the first time. I'm really looking forward to racing at the new BeaveRun complex, too. It's a new facility. I think it's been built within the past few years, so I'm really excited to get out there and race on it."

Gafrarar's wife Jacqueline echoed those sentiments.

"I know he always enjoys coming home to race," she said. "He's very proud of his home state."

She also admitted to being nervous when her husband hits the track.

"It's nerve-wracking for me," she said. "People always tell me how calm I look on the outside, but inside, I'm a bundle of nerves. But I know he's living his dream, so I'm behind him all the way."

Recently, Gafrarar was awarded with the prestigious George Kugler Sportsmanship Award.

The award is given annually to a WKA driver who shows devotion to the sport and to its integrity.

"I was really surprised to win that award, too," he said. "It's one of the most prestigious awards in our sport, so to win it means a lot to me."

Gafrarar has always been passionate about getting kids involved in the racing industry.

"Kids are always coming around when I'm at these races, kids who were just getting started with karts a few years ago. Now, they're getting ready to move on to bigger and better things. These kids have been following me for a long time. It's always great to talk with them. Hopefully, I can pass on some of my knowledge to them."

Cars on the Goody's Dash Series are, in effect, a scaled down version of a normal NASCAR Winston Cup Series car. Instead of driving a car with an eight-cylinder engine, Goody's Dash Series cars utilize a smaller, six-cylinder engine.

The WKA Tomar Nationals are being held at the BeaveRun motorsports complex in Wampum from Aug. 8-10.

Race fans can learn more by visiting the WKA's web site at www.worldkarting.com.

-By Tom Loughner - courtesy of Clarann

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Series Kart , NASCAR