Only a few days remain before the 2010 Humpy's Heroes class will be decided and 10 up-and-coming drivers will have the opportunity to receive an educational experience from an esteemed panel of racing industry experts.
The deadline for entering this year's program is April 10. Those chosen to participate in the four-month program will be notified by April 15. An entry form can be downloaded from www.humpysheroes.com.
“The program is a comprehensive educational experience preparing young drivers to make the transition from local short-track racing to NASCAR's big three series,” H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said. “During the program, the participants will be given instruction, counseled, engage in dialog, then judged on their driving ability, interviewing skills, public speaking, and marketability.”
Each driver will spend personal time with Wheeler -- legendary Hall of Fame promoter, former president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, and co-author of the book “Growing Up NASCAR”.
Andrew Smith's victory in last year's Humpy's Heroes competition led to a ride in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East for the Pooler, Ga., native.
“I think it helped me a lot,” Smith said about Humpy's Heroes. “It helped me in that it allowed me to show them what I can do. Ken (Ragan) helped us get hooked up with Spraker Racing and having a good word come from Humpy, Ken and Andy (Hillenburg) made a big difference. It helped him [Spraker] open up to us.”
Smith said if he had not participated in Humpy's Heroes his career progression “would definitely have been slower.”
“So many people are now trying to advance in racing,” Smith continued. “Without knowing the right people, it's almost impossible. It sped up for me because last year I was racing Saturday night in Legends cars. We may run some ARCA at the end of the year and some Late Model. All of this came from Ken saying, 'Hey. This is Andrew Smith and this is what he did with Humpy's Heroes.' I would recommend it for anyone, whether you win or lose, it helps. If I could do it again, I would. There is no way you wouldn't benefit from being involved with it.”
Smith's father, Edwin, said he'd been racing for a long time and he thought Humpy's Heroes was a “first-class operation ... from the different venues from media coverage, to on the track and off the track.”
“I was very highly impressed,” he continued. “It was an excellent opportunity for Andrew to advance his career and get folks to look at him and know him a little better. It put more maturity in him as a driver. It was awesome for Andrew. This opened a lot of doors. He's got a chance of being a future star in some series. He's now living in Concord in one of David Ragan's places. He is working in a race shop full time and running in a NASCAR series.”
Edwin Smith said even the drivers who didn't finish in the top three last year received a great deal of experience and future insight into what they might be able to do with their racing careers.
The four-month Humpy's Heroes program consists of a three-day boot camp in May at Rockingham Speedway, one-on-one's with Wheeler in July as well as a tour of the Roush Fenway Racing shop and NASCAR's R&D center, a home track evaluation of each driver, mid-term meetings with Wheeler and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Ragan, a July lunch at the Childress winery, a tour of Richard Childress Racing, and a night of dirt at Carolina Speedway. The final competition is in August at Rockingham Speedway. The winner's grand prize includes a fully-funded, competitive car and an experienced crew for the ARCA race in Toledo, Ohio.