At the beginning of February this year Johnny VanDoorn was not sure where or if he would be racing in 2009. After an excellent Rookie season with the CRA Super Series, in which he won the 2007 Rookie of the Year race, finished second in the points with two wins and nine Top 5 finishes the communication between him and the car owner was not there in 2008. The 2008 season was disappointing for him and the owner as he had only one win and two Top 5 finishes.
As he was evaluating what to do in 2009 he talked to a long time family friend, Jim Ten Brink. VanDoorn told Ten Brink he was not having fun, and as a 21 year old he felt racing should be fun. Ten Brink then had a radical proposal, he would put together a super late model team to run the CRA Super Series with John as the driver. With the deal coming together in February, (they did not get the car until mid-March) it did not leave much time to get the car ready for the first race at Anderson Speedway on April 11th.
The team consisting of John VanDoorn, his 16-year-old brother Butch, Dean Huizenga, Adam Chase, Dirk Redder and Jim Ten Brink went to work. John worked with his employer, Port City Race Cars to get a chassis; they then went to another long time friend, Jack Jerovsek of Baker Engineering for an engine and built their car. With many long nights, busy weekends and some of the team giving up their spring break to get the car ready for the first race.
“We started with the goal of winning a race this year and being competitive throughout the season.” Ten Brink stated. “We had decided we had enough to run the first half the season, with limited sponsorship, and see where we stand then.”
The first race at Anderson turned out to be a harbinger of good things to come as VanDoorn patiently raced from his second row staring position, chasing veteran racer Eddie Hoffman for many laps, until Hoffman slid up the track and VanDoorn slipped under him for the lead and never looked back, going on for the win over Boris Jurkovic by nearly 2 seconds on the tight ¼ mile track. Van Doorn then summed up the teams feelings in Victory Lane saying, “New year, new car, new engine, new owner, it was great to come out and win. I am proud of my guys, they did not give up on me, helped put this deal together in just a couple of months, and many of these are the guys from my old team. I really have to thank my sponsors Accelerate Liquid Deicing Solution, Port City Race Cars, Baker Engineering and Pro Cam for all they have done. I am real excited to be back in Victory Lane, it is a new adventure."
The new Kaos Racing team left Anderson second in the point chase and they never fell below that all year. When the team went to Salem Speedway on June 27th they were in a tie for first with three time CRA Super Series Champion Scott Hantz. Needing a solid run on one of the few tracks Hantz has not won on in a CRA Super Series race, VanDoorn won by over five and a half seconds over Hantz to take a slim lead. While Hantz would come back to tie the championship race one more time VanDoorn never trailed again.
“We take pride in our maintenance program.” VanDoorn said. “We check and recheck everything before each race. And we feel like it showed with us having only one DNF all year, ironically in the last race of the year.”
The team is very proud of what they accomplished this year as a start-up team that was under funded, and sometimes struggled to get to the track. “The CRA bonus program, paying out to for first place during the season really went a long way to helping us get to the track for all the races.” Ten Brink stated. The team pulled to the track in a crew cab pickup with a gooseneck trailer, all of them sharing one hotel room on many road trips.
Their truck caused one of the well-funded traveling teams from Alabama to comment to them after VanDoorn turned a very fast lap in qualifying “Guys, we just got our butts kicked by four hillbillies in a pickup truck.” The Kaos team adopted this as a badge of honor the rest of the season.
“We would not be here without the hard work by John, Butch, and the whole team, they really stuck together this year.” Ten Brink commented. “Our sponsors were great, Baker Engineering, Port City Race Cars, Magic Transportation, Rip It Energy Drink, R&R Wireloom and Accelerate Liquid Deicing Solution made this all work. Jack from Baker really helped us with the engines, and Harley at Port City helped John with the chassis. We raced this year with only one chassis, so we were worried about bending it and really worked to make sure it stayed straight.”
“I really want to say thank you to all my sponsors, Jim, and the crew.” VanDoorn said. “There were so many people who helped us this year, when we had problems at Winchester before qualifying, DeWayne and Brent McGunegill were extremely helpful even though it was not one of their engines and we were pitted next to Scott Hantz. He and his crew helped us a lot even though we were in a tight race for the point championship.”
Ten Brink pointed to the sense of family and friends in the CRA Super Series as one of his favorite parts of participating. “Everyone helping each other, laughing and having fun off the track and racing hard on it. I really feel like when you have beaten these guys you have beaten the best. I do not know of anyone better than Hantz, and I am proud to have raced against them. We were hoping to just be competitive, to win is unbelievable.”
VaDoorn's season isn't over yet. The newly crowned champion has filed an entry for Saturday's North/South Shootout 125 Presented by WearCrete Diamond Concrete Polishing at Concord Speedway (NC).