USAC star Hines to race in NASCAR Trucks’ dirt debut


The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ highly anticipated dirt-track race this summer at Ohio’s famous Eldora Speedway now features one of the best dirt racers in the sport.

Tracy Hines, a two-time USAC champion and winner of 85 dirt events across all three of USAC’s major divisions, will return to Truck racing for the special event in a Toyota Tundra fielded by ThorSport Racing. Hines competed in the NCWTS from 2003 to 2005, collecting two Top 5 and three Top 10 finishes over 52 starts (48 of which came with the ThorSport team).

“The realization that a major NASCAR series is going back to dirt is super exciting,” Hines said in a statement. “What is it going to be? I don’t think anybody knows, until we run under that checkered flag, what we’re actually going to see. So that’s definitely huge.”

Hines is also a master of Eldora’s half-mile track, winning there 12 times in his USAC career. One more victory at the Tony Stewart-owned facility would put him in a tie on its all-time wins list with Jack Miller.

With all of his knowledge of Eldora and dirt racing in general, ThorSport is banking on Hines to be a threat for the win come July 24.

“We’re excited to have a driver with Tracy’s ability in one of our trucks for a truly unique event that we feel will really highlight what he’s done at that venue as well as what he can do in the series’ first dirt race,” said team general manager David Pepper.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Leave a comment

IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski