Four new drivers sign on with NST By Craig Murphy Just in time for this weekend's doubleheader in Elma, Wash., the National Sprint Tour has added a second Washington native to the driver roster. Chad Hillier of Sedro Woolley, Wash. is...
Four new drivers sign on with NST
By Craig Murphy
Just in time for this weekend's doubleheader in Elma, Wash., the National Sprint Tour has added a second Washington native to the driver roster.
Chad Hillier of Sedro Woolley, Wash. is one of four new drivers that will be competing with the NST for the rest of the season.
Jason Solwold of Burlington, Wash. is the other Washington native in the NST. Solwold won the NST finale last weekend in Billings, Mont.
The NST has a strong connection with the Evergreen State. Series founder Fred Brownfield was from Snohomish, Wash. and promoted races at Elma from 1998 until his untimely death in June.
In addition to Hillier, the other drivers signing contracts to race with the NST for the remainder of the year are Jonathan Allard, Travis Rilat and Stevie Smith.
Those four join Solwold, Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Tim Kaeding, Jason Meyers, Jason Sides, Paul McMahan, Shane Stewart, Brian Paulus, Kerry Madsen and Dean Jacobs as regulars in the NST.
"This group is a great bunch of guys," said Hillier, who drives for Dave DeWitt, a familiar name in the Northwest racing community. "Everyone has fun and has a good time. It's nice to run against these guys."
Both Hillier and Solwold joined the NST after years of competing at Northwest tracks such as Skagit Speedway.
"It's good to see him out here," Solwold said of his friend Hillier. "I've raced against him a lot. My first year of touring nationally, I struggled at new places. He's going to have the same thing. Every place we've been to, I make suggestions to him whether it be on car setup or where to run on the track.
"I want to see Chad do good," Solwold added. "I had people like Jimmy Carr tell me what to do and not do when I first came out here. Hopefully Chad will keep his head up."
Chico, California's Allard and his Morrie Williamson-owned William Motorsports team are looking forward to the rest of the NST season.
"We're excited to do it," Allard said. "We were happy to go with the NST right from the get go because of Morrie's friendship with Fred Brownfield. Because of how Fred's treated us in the past, we wanted to do it. I was always impressed with how Fred treated you the same, whether you were a local guy or not. He made sure you were taken care of. It was always a class deal with him.
"These are the teams we want to run against," Allard added of the competition in the NST field, which now includes 15 full-time drivers.
Rilat comes to the NST from Forney, Texas.
"It's pretty neat," Rilat said. "It's fun to come run with good guys and for good prize money. Everybody seems to have their stuff together out here."
Rilat recognizes he has long travels in front of him based on where he's from, especially as the series has upcoming races in Washington and Oregon, followed by a date in California.
"It's a heck of a long way, but anywhere I go is a long way," Rilat said with a laugh. "That's all I've done since I started in Sprint cars in 1997. I've been to Australia, Washington, Florida and Virginia so far this year. It's really neat to see different parts of the country."
Smith and the RAACE Foundation continue their partnership for the remainder of the 2006 NST season. Smith and his father, Steve Smith, first teamed up with the RAACE Foundation last year.
RAACE stands for Race Against the Abuse of Children Everywhere. The Baltimore-based charity is dedicated to raising public awareness and concern for the problem of child sexual abuse.
Smith, a 20-year veteran in the Sprint car ranks from New Oxford, Penn., has racked up more than 160 feature wins during his career. He first competed in NST competition during the series' swing through his native Pennsylvania in June.
"It certainly is a tough field," Smith said at the time. "These are some of the best drivers and teams in Sprint car racing. To run with these guys you have to bring your 'A' game."