DENVER, N.C. — RACE 101 will reach a new milestone this month when four dynamic racers climb behind the wheel of its ARCA superspeedway car for testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway Dec. 20-22.
The quartet of drivers includes three graduates of the unique racing educational program and one partner of the school.
Program founder Tony Blanchard views this next step in the evolution of RACE 101 as evidence of his vision finding success.
“We started RACE 101 to fill a void in the motorsports community,” said Blanchard. “Young racers often have nowhere to turn to learn the attributes they will need to succeed in racing.
“Our target audience is racers who don’t necessarily have the deepest pockets, but racers who have the ambition to learn about our complicated industry. Our graduates learn they have the ability to create their own opportunities.”
The four drivers testing at Daytona are Sarah Cornett-Ching, Kevin Powell, Jerry Tunney and Karl Weber.
Powell is the senior member of the group, and the 46-year-old native nicknamed KRAZY Kevin will serve as a mentor to the three younger pilots. Powell competed in a Pro All-Star Series (PASS) race with Blanchard in 2013, and he has pictured himself turning laps on the high banks of Daytona Speedway for longer than the other drivers have been alive.
“I remember watching the first flag-to-flag televised broadcast of the Daytona 500 in 1979 from home,” said Powell. “I have been to Speedweeks more than 15 times since then. Every time I think about Daytona Speedway I think about what it would be like to turn laps there. I have dreamt of it since I was a kid.”
Karl Weber is the Flying Farmer from Ambia, Ind. The soft-spoken teenager from the Midwest works the family farm when he isn’t racing, and he is the only driver of the four with ARCA experience. Ironically he is also the only driver ineligible to compete at Daytona because of his age.
Weber is a current student at Race 101, and he will use the test to gain valuable experience as he intends to compete in all of the ARCA races he is eligible to run next year.
“I think it is great I am allowed to test at Daytona even if I can’t compete there yet,” said Weber. “We will run numerous events next year, and every lap is important. I want to be ready for when I am able to race Daytona.”
The driver traveling the farthest to participate in the test session is Summerland, British Columbia, racer Sarah Cornett-Ching.
“I started BBAG years ago as a joke with my fellow racers,” said Cornett-Ching, who has handed BBAG stickers to many of her fellow racers. “It works for women in any male-dominated sport. For now it is just a conversation piece, but maybe someday I will build a brand around it.”
The fourth driver testing the RACE 101 entry at Daytona is Jerry Tunney from Clark Summit, Pa.
“I never thought I would have this opportunity,” said Tunney. “Racing is such a hard sport to advance in. The experience is what I am looking forward to the most, but if I work hard and keep pushing myself to do better things I believe more opportunities will present themselves.”