From left, Doug and Mimi Herbert and Terry Vance. Photos: Dave Kommel

NHRA: Bike legend Terry Vance donates $1 million to Doug Herbert’s teen defensive driving program

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You can’t blame all the competitors in this weekend’s NHRA season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals if they were a bit envious of the check former Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert pocketed Saturday.

Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Defensive Driving organization was the recipient of a $1 million donation from legendary NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle multi-champion Terry Vance during ceremonies at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

B.R.A.K.E.S. (“Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe”) was founded by Herbert 10 years ago after his two teenaged sons, Jon and James, were tragically killed in a car crash near their suburban Charlotte, North Carolina home.

Since then, the non-profit program has trained over 34,000 teenagers and their parents across 45 states and five countries to prevent injuries and save lives by training teens and their parents to be safer drivers on the road.

“Terry and I have been friends for years, and we have a lot in common,” Herbert said. “Besides loving racing, driving and riding, we’re also parents and we both recognize that protecting our kids and setting them up for success in life is the single greatest accomplishment you can ever aspire to.

“Thanks to Terry’s generosity, the charity that I founded to honor my sons is going to help a lot more teens and parents nationwide.”

Vance, the winningest rider in NHRA PSM history with 14 championships and co-owner of Vance & Hines Racing, recently attended a B.R.A.K.E.S. intensive half-day defensive driver training program with both of his own teen sons.

“As a parent, every time your kid goes out the door, especially if they’re getting into a car, you want to know that you’ve done everything in your power to help them get back home safe,” Vance said. “B.R.A.K.E.S. training does that.

“It gives teens skills and knowledge that we all know they’ll need on the street, and it stresses the importance of making good decisions to avoid trouble in the first place. I think every teen should go through B.R.A.K.E.S. That’s why my wife and I are making this donation to help Doug’s program keep expanding and saving lives, and we hope to inspire others to do the same.”

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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?