Garry Ankrom enjoys racing

Western Pennsylvania man enjoys two sides of stock car racing In the world of Stock Car racing the name NASCAR has become a household name, gaining its largest surge in popularity in the decade of the nineties. The growth in popularity of the ...

Western Pennsylvania man enjoys two sides of stock car racing

In the world of Stock Car racing the name NASCAR has become a household name, gaining its largest surge in popularity in the decade of the nineties. The growth in popularity of the sport of Stock Car racing has increased interest not just at the national level, but at the many local short tracks across the country.

One such racetrack is Motordrome Speedway in Smithton, PA. Motordrome, a NASCAR sanctioned track, has been in operation for several decades. It has had both dirt and asphalt racing surfaces over the years, and now hosts six divisions of racing every Friday night in the spring and summer.

A Motordrome regular who is realizing his dream of becoming a race car driver is Garry Ankrom of Smithfield, PA. Ankrom, a Santa Rosa, CA native, has been involved in racing most of his life. "My dad raced a street stock on Dirt at Petaluma Speedway in northern California. We also worked on a family friend's dirt Late Model." It was when Ankrom moved to Pennsylvania that he finally built and got behind the wheel of a racecar.

For the last two seasons Ankrom has raced in Motordrome's American Flyer division, an entry level class. As many others at the entry level, he aspires to move up to a higher class of car in 2005. There are many factors a driver needs to consider before moving his race team up, finances being at the top of the list. "It all depends on the money. I want to move up to something with a sealed engine, like a legacy or a Jennerstown late model, but at the same time I am looking at getting a Charger for either Roaring Knob, or Motordrome, just in case nothing else works out, I have the back up plan."

Another side of Stock Car racing that Ankrom is actively involved in is the media. All around the country, the sport of auto racing enjoys a very active media presence, including trade publications, radio and television programs and websites. Nearly two years ago, Ankrom started PARacingnews.net, a website designed to cover racing of all sorts in Pennsylvania. I started the site in March of 2003. "There was a need for one place for fans to get their news. They also wanted somewhere that they could voice their opinion. The site was very well received right off the bat, getting almost 25,000 page views and 7,000 unique visitors the first month. Since then the sites popularity has grown tremendously. In August of 2004 the site had over 80,000 page views and 19,000 unique visitors."

His background in computer technology is extensive, but it is racing that drives him. In fact he has always wanted to be behind the wheel. "My dad raced, we were always around racing, so I have wanted to race as long as I can remember." Ankrom has succeeded in bringing together his love for the sport and his racing website to his benefit. He even brought readers of the site through the process of building his first racecar in a several part series last season. He ultimately raced that car at Motordrome.

In all forms of motorsports, sponsorship is what really keeps the wheels rolling. So when a company sponsors a racer, they would like some return on their investment. For most racers, that involves having the sponsors name emblazoned on the race car, making personal appearances and mentioning the sponsor's name whenever an interview situation occurs. For Ankrom, his website allows him to go one step further. He has the ability to give further exposure to his sponsor's, which include Team Ciferno Ride and Drive, Advance Auto Parts, Monro Muffler Brake and Service, Twin Oaks Homecare, among others, on his website which is read by several thousand race fans each month.

His plans for next season are to move up from the entry level American Flyer class at Motordrome and into the division known as Chargers. In fact, Ankrom recently purchased Fred Bell's old Charger. "Team Ciferno and I are doing some work on it getting it ready to compete for Rookie of the Year in the Chargers at Motordrome Speedway," commented Ankrom. His ultimate goal is to reach the Late Model division, which takes a large commitment, both financial and time wise. "It takes a lot of hard work to be successful and all of that hard work takes you away from your family a lot." In fact Ankrom might spend more time with his race team members (Tom Lazarz and Matt Burns) than he does with his own family.

In general, stock car racing remains a family sport. One of Ankrom's fondest memories happened while his family was in attendance. "I would have to say it is winning my first, and only, heat race with my wife and kids in the stands. I have four kids and it's hard for my wife to get them to stay still long enough to attend the races. They were there and it made my first win very special."

Garry has also recently launched a new business venture. Ankrom Signs & Vinyl Graphics will specialize in sign and logo design, vehicle lettering, magnetic door signs, banners, and especially for entry level and racers on a budget, racecar number packages. Garry can be reached at www.ankromsigns.com.

As Ankrom looks toward the 2005 racing season, he hope more memories like that will be made.

-Jim Zufall

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