Avon, Ind. (April 12, 2001)Success can be addicting. Four Pro Rookies in 2001 have had success while competing in off-road racing, and they are not about to let go of the thrill of victory. In 2001, three of the most recognized Sportsman...
Avon, Ind. (April 12, 2001)Success can be addicting. Four Pro Rookies in 2001 have had success while competing in off-road racing, and they are not about to let go of the thrill of victory.
In 2001, three of the most recognized Sportsman drivers from Championship Off-Road Racing and a 20-year racing veteran will take their talent and drive for victory to the CORR EXXON Superflo Pro Series.
Steve Federico (Tour 2000 Single Buggy Champion), Chad Hord (Tour 2000 Super Buggy Champion) Larry Gourlie (2nd place in Super Buggy Division) and first-time CORR driver Kent Brascho from Pell City, Alabama will all move upward to the CORR Pro Division.
Hord and Federico will compete in the Pro-Lite Division, Gourlie will battle with the Pro-2 drivers, and Brascho will move directly into the Pro-4 division. Each driver is anticipating the move to the Pro division, but it does come with some anxiety.
"It is a scary feeling going from a buggy class with 160 horse power to 780 horse power in one shot," said Gourlie.
Each driver noted that handling the power of the trucks is a key to their success in their Rookie season. They have also found out that working on the trucks and learning the different set-ups going from race to race will be a challenge.
At first glance, Steve Federico (www.federicoracing.com) resembles Brad Garrett, the 6'8" giant who plays Robert Barone on CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond. Federico is smaller, though. He is 6'3" and 205 pounds, with a personality just as large. In 2000, Federico's driving stood out as he won 7 times in 12 starts, on his way to the Single Buggy Championship.
When Federico brought 30 family members to the Tour 2000 Banquet in December that helped set things in motion for his move to the Pro division. After consulting with his family, Federico was able to obtain extra money from his sponsors for the move. P.F. Changs, Ingles Markets, Mountain Dew, the Italian Village Restaurants, Mechanix Wear, Goodyear, Wilmette NTO Body, and Racing Optics provided him with the extra funds to purchase a Pro-Lite truck for 2001.
In the off-season, Federico has been doing a lot of talking with fellow drivers about what to expect from a Pro-Lite truck. The learning factor has been complex, he noted. What has been the best advice so far? You cannot win on the first lap.
"The off-season has been incredibly tense," said Federico. "What I have found out is each track is a different set-up with these trucks. If you miss the set-up, you're definitely not going to win a race."
Federico also has the advantage of having a crew chief with 14 years of experience in Motorsports. Steve Krieman, who worked with Federico in the Sportsman Series, will continue to work with Federico and his Toyota Tacoma.
"Steve is extremely knowledgeable in buggies, but he is learning as well as I am in the truck series," Federico said.
What was Federico's impression of his new truck? "I drove it this weekend, and it's scary fast," he said. As far as the color of the truck for 2001, his website put it best:
"Perhaps this truck'll be green like the color of my lawn, but when it is racing, you can color it gone."
Following two consecutive second-place finishes in the Super Buggy Division (1998 and 1999), Chad Hord (www.hordracing.com) of Iron Mountain, Michigan won the Super Buggy Championship in Tour 2000 with three victories in 12 starts.
When BOSS Snowplow provided Hord with a major sponsorship deal, that enabled him to fulfill his dream of competing in the EXXON Superflo Pro Series.
"We always thought about it (moving to the Pro Division), but we never really had a whole lot of sponsorship behind us," said Hord.
Not only did Hord Racing purchase Pro-Lite Champion Jeff Kincaid's Toyota Tacoma, they built a new race shop exclusively for the truck. Working on the truck in general has been the biggest adjustment so far, said Hord.
"It's a totally different ballgame for us," he said.
Hord also realizes that it will take a while to get to know the truck during racing conditions, and he understands it may take time to get use to the nuances of a diverse vehicle.
"I feel if the truck remotely acts close to the buggy did as far as jumping, handling, and turning, I think we are going to adapt well and hopefully start moving our way to the front," said Hord.
Hord leaves the Super Buggy Division as the career leader in victories with 6 in 31 starts.
For a guy obsessed with cleanliness, Larry Gourlie (www.quicknbrite.com) picked a unique sport to compete. As the official Quick n' Brite spokesman, Gourlie can be spotted on the television outside of the vehicle, displaying the unique powers of his universal cleaning product.
Gourlie realized he was ready to join teammate Kevin Probst in the Pro-2 division when he was running in the top consistently with his Super Buggy in Tour 2000. What he may not have realized was the adjustment moving to a Pro-2 truck. He is already preparing to race, knowing that the truck will be drastically different from his buggy.
"I feel moving from the buggies to the trucks is beyond being a rookie," he said. "It's almost like starting over again."
He purchased Probst's Pro-2 truck from last year, and Probst has played an integral part in Gourlie's preparation for 2001. Gourlie indicated that the mental preparation of racing would be key in 2001.
"I'd say the mental part of racing is the biggest part of racing," said Gourlie.
He has not had the opportunity to do extensive testing yet, but he does know he must adapt to the horsepower and turning radius of the truck. He is eager to do what he loves, though, and that is competing.
"The biggest thing with me is the challenge of competing against the biggest guys in the field," Gourlie said.
Kent Brascho and White Lightning Racing are not Rookies to racing. For 20 years, he has competed with 4-wheel drive trucks throughout Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. After purchasing Walker Evans' Pro-4 truck, Brascho is getting ready for his debut in Championship Off-Road Racing.
"Having to start all over in a different truck has been hectic trying to get everything situated," he said.
Brascho noted that the Pro-4 trucks are somewhat similar to those he competed with, but the CORR trucks have more wheel travel, and a little more mud. After observing the CORR EXXON Superflo Series and talking with Evans and Doug Kincaid, the CORR Technical Director, Brascho feels they will be ready.
Brascho was familiar with Championship Off-Road Racing for a long time by watching the races on ESPN 2 and Speedvision. After five championships, he was ready for a new challenge. He was ready for something different, and CORR will bring a unique brand of racing for his team.
No matter how much experience you have in off-road racing, though, learning will be key for Brascho in 2001.
"It will be a learning thing the first year or two," Brascho said.
Even though it may take a year or two to get use to CORR, Brascho will undoubtedly make an impression in the Pro-4 division.
These four drivers will not allow complacency on the racetrack. Sure, they will have their difficulties as they adjust to their new vehicles, but they will not be satisfied with anything less than a top-five finish. They expect to finish in the top-five in their division, and with the talent and drive that each have, it is not out of reach for them.