SELINSGROVE, Pa. - Veteran race car owner Jeff Creasy of Bloomsburg and teenage driving sensation Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove are making final preparations for the start of their first full season together in limited sprint car racing. Creasy...
SELINSGROVE, Pa. - Veteran race car owner Jeff Creasy of Bloomsburg and teenage driving sensation Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove are making final preparations for the start of their first full season together in limited sprint car racing.
Creasy and Heimbach teamed up at season's end last year and competed in 15 races at eight different speedways in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York and New Jersey.
The 19-year-old Heimbach, who advanced from the micro sprint car division, will be competing for top rookie honors in 358 sprint car racing at Selinsgrove and Williams Grove Speedways in 2002.
Heimbach surprised the racing community with his driving abilities when he made his debut in a full-size sprint car on Aug. 4 at Selinsgrove Speedway. He won a qualifier on Aug. 18 in only his third outing, then led most of the feature on Aug. 25 before posting a crowd-pleasing third-place finish his fourth time at bat.
But it was Heimbach's fifth start at Selinsgrove on Sept. 1 that really bolstered his confidence when he came from deep in the starting field for another convincing top-five feature finish.
"After that race I felt like a million bucks," Heimbach says. "I knew we could do it. I learned a lot about myself as a racer. If you can drive to the front, you're going to get to victory lane sooner or later."
A 2001 graduate of Selinsgrove Area High School, Heimbach works on his family's dairy farm during the week. At the age of 15, he started racing micro sprints against his parents' wishes.
"We didn't go to the races when we were growing up," Heimbach recalls. "When I finally did have the chance to go I just loved it. And that's when I quit all the other [stick and ball] sports."
Now that he's competing locally at Selinsgrove Speedway, his parents, David and Susan, can take pride in watching their son live his dream and seeing Heimbach's Country Store appear as a sponsor on the No. 12.
"Selinsgrove is exciting because there is so much speed," Heimbach says. "What makes Selinsgrove so important to me is that I grew up in this town and now I can race here."
With 35 career micro sprint features at tracks like Millville, Trailways and Linda's, it was a matter of time until someone from the elite sprint car owner ranks noticed Heimbach's talent. Enter Jeff Creasy.
Creasy, 41, operates Creasy Signs in Bloomsburg and provides the paint schemes for about 50 race cars each season. He's also been a race team owner for more than 20 years and has a track record of his own for selecting up-and-coming drivers.
"I could tell he was a driver who wouldn't give up," Creasy describes Heimbach. "He'll run the top when he needs to be there and he's exciting to watch."
Stevie Smith, one of today's stars with the traveling World of Outlaws contingent, got his start in one of Creasy's sprint cars. Smith, of Hanover, won 65 sprint car races and several championship titles with Creasy before leaving for the national circuit in the early 90's.
"I would say at this point Blane is better [than Smith]," Creasy says. "He and Stevie both use their heads out on the track and both are smooth drivers."
Although most of Creasy's highlights as a car owner were achieved in 410 sprint car racing, he won his first limited sprint car championship with Hanover's Danny Jones at the wheel in 1995. He believes 358 sprint car racing is one answer to the sport's escalating costs.
"It's affordable," says Creasy of 358 racing. "It's for the working guy. The 410 sprints have just gotten too expensive. Some day I'd like to get back there but it will be with some help.
"Before Selinsgrove opened [for 2001] we knew we were going to be there in August," Creasy continues. "Selinsgrove is doing the right thing. It's a Saturday night home for the 358 teams and that's what they've needed."
David "Cuff" Reich, who has been wrenching on sprint cars for more than 35 years, has been named the crew chief. The team will have two rollers race-ready when the 2002 season begins at Selinsgrove Speedway on Saturday, March 30 at 6 p.m.
The Creasy-Heimbach No. 12 is scheduled to be on display at Motorsports 2002 in Fort Washington, Jan. 11-13; York Dirt-Trackin', York Fairgrounds, Jan. 25-27; and at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, Hummels Wharf, Feb. 17-23.
The Creasy-Heimbach team receives sponsorship support from Creasy Signs, Bloomsburg; Salem RV Center, Selinsgrove; Craig Van Horn Body Shop, New Berlin; Heimbach's Country Store, Selinsgrove; in addition to J&J Auto Racing, Kriner Racing Engines, Wing Dynamics and Ben Cook Racing Products.