In the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series, drivers’ dads of all ages are prominent in the garage area at every race. Fathers can be found in just about every role in racing in the NASCAR Busch East Series, from team owner, crew chief, team member, sponsor and rig driver, to de-facto agents, publicists, crewmen and photographers.
Omnipresent NASCAR Busch East Series dads include Hubert Sellers of Danville, Va., father and car owner for series rookie Peyton Sellers, 24, the 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion; Jerry Smith of Beacon Falls, Conn., father and Motion Racing team member for his son, Jonathan, a 20-year-old series rookie, who still competes regularly at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn.; and David Theriault, of Bristol, Conn., father of 21-year-old series rookie Michelle Theriault, who keeps a steady hand on the Spraker Racing Chevrolet’s steering wheel.
Ron Schendel was a car owner in NASCAR local racing before his son Tim, 28, of Sparta, Wisc., grew into the driver’s role. Tim started racing at age 14 at LaCrosse (Wisc.) Fairgrounds Speedway, and at 18, it became his full-time career.
“Dad’s been a big part of my racing ever since I started,” Tim said of his father. “Last year we won the NASCAR Elite Division Midwest Series championship and the Elite Division portion of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in October, and I owe everything to him. He’s stuck with me ever since I started.
“Our team has grown quite a bit,” Tim said. “Now we’re in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series and we have new challenges, and we’re ready to take them on. It makes the team even better, and I think we’re ready to win.
“Dad and I have the same goals. We both want to succeed and do well for our sponsors, Matthews (a leading hunting bow manufacturer) and TexPar Energy (an industrial energy provider), the crew and everyone who supports us. Our whole mission is to succeed, win and run up front.”
Heading to the series’ next event, June 29 at New Hampshire International Speedway, Schendel is 15th in series points and rising, after his season-best finish of ninth last Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Jesus Hernandez, 27, of Fresno, Calif., inherited his interest in racing from his namesake father,
Jesus. The senior Hernandez and his brothers were racers in Mexico, before moving to California.
“He was there every weekend for me when I started,” said the driver of his father when he started
racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Madera (Calif.) Speedway nearly 10 years
ago. Young Jesus won back-to-back divisional championships at the track in 1998 and 1999, the
’98 title as a rookie.
“Eventually, I had to make a decision to make racing a hobby or try to make a career out of it. I’ve
been blessed to have some good success in racing, to get with a real good team, and good people
to work with. I’m very blessed to be in the position I’m in.”
Hernandez is eighth in series points, has a best race finish of second and three top-10 finishes.
Hernandez is a third-year Driver for Diversity participant, and drives Allstate Chevrolets fielded by
Harry Davis has a presence in the NASCAR Busch East Series race-day garage and pit area. He
is a congenial networker who is known, and knows, just about everyone in the series. Davis, the
father of 16-year-old rookie Joe Gibbs Racing driver Marc, retired after a 30-year career as a
cameraman for NBC News. He shoots countless pictures recording his son’s history every weekend.
His son looks up to him.
“Dad’s always been there for me,” Marc said. “I started racing when I was six, and he’s been there
every step of he way. From driving me to the race track to being my crew chief, he’s helped me and always supported my dreams. To this day, he’s always making phone calls to help me, and he’s always making sure I’m where I’m supposed to be. He retired about two years ago, and he says he’s working harder for me now than when he was at NBC. I’m grateful for that and he’s just always there for me.”
Through his climb through various levels of racing, Joey Logano, now 17, has been a headline generator. His race-winning talent attracts the headlines, and his enthusiasm and ever-present smile attracts fans. The young man with extraordinary race car driving talent keeps his parents, Tom and Debbie, extra busy. Tom helps keep an ever-growing schedule for his son, and attends just about every racing, media or fan event Joey participates in.
“We definitely couldn’t do this without him,” Logano said of his dad. “From when I was little, through quarter-midgets, Legends cars and Pro Cup to today, he still plays a big role on our team.”
Interestingly, Joey did not pick up his interest in motorsports from his dad.
“No,” Logano laughs, “he kinda wanted me to play baseball and basketball because he did, and I was really bad at that. I was not good at all. But I had a go-cart when I was little, and he let me play around with that all the time. I loved driving that go-cart. Today, I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing now, and still having fun with it.”
Like Logano, established series star Matt Kobyluck did not “inherit” his interest in racing from family.
“My dad, Dan, is my transport driver,” Kobyluck said. “It’s a huge responsibility and it takes a huge weight off my shoulders. When the transporter leaves the shop ever week, it’s in the best hands it can possibly be in. We’ve got some long hauls on the schedule now, and whatever it takes, he gets it done and gets it done safely.
"My dad is just a huge supporter of mine,” Kobyluck added. “On race weekends at the track, he’s just being my dad, which I love.”