DAY 2 AT SUPER BOWL OF STREET LEGAL DRAG RACING: WITH RANDY SIMPSON

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Route 66 Raceway presents this insider's account of the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing from Randy Simpson, an NHRA Stock Eliminator driver and student at Illinois State University who is interning with Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway this summer. For real-time timing and scoring of this event, please visit http://www.1320go.com , or see http://www.nmradigital.com or http://www.fasteststreetcar.com.

To tell the truth, I wasn't exactly a super athlete back in high school. I didn't win awards for most completions on the football field or lead the three-point standings in basketball. In fact, I didn't play any sports in high school. If, however, I were a graduate from Seneca High School, things would be entirely different.

I had the opportunity during the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing this weekend to speak with Ron Jensen, the advisor and instructor for Seneca High's motorsports club. Seneca High School's racing program, currently the only of its type in Illinois, is in its fifth year of on-track competition. The team has two full-time drivers who compete for points in Route 66 Raceway's High School ET Bracket series. Seniors Jake Hoelscher and Coty Johnson are the team's primary drivers, both of whom are chasing the track championship and contending for the honor of representing Route 66 Raceway in the Summit E.T. Finals at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. later this season.

Comparable to the usual high school stick-and-ball sports, Seneca High's motorsports program treats the drag racing team like any other sport. Before the drivers and crew can maintain their race cars, they have to maintain their grades. Standard high school sports eligibility applies to the race team too. Next year's prospect drivers also have to endure a series of tryouts before making the team. Students in their junior year of high school share the driving duties at the test-and-tunes. While testing, the hopeful drivers' performance is evaluated based on their elapsed-times and reaction-times. The drivers are also selected by their off-track performance. The drivers are responsible for building, maintaining, and securing sponsorship for their own cars.

Seneca High's driver selection program seems to be working well. On track, both drivers have one win each this year. On the business side, both drivers have secured sponsorship support. Coty's 1979 Ford Mustang receives support from Wolf Racing Engines, M&H Tires, and Quick Fuel. Jake's 1979 Pontiac Firebird is representing Borowski Racing Engines, Hoosier Tire, and Quick Fuel.

The best testament to the program's success however, is the lesson these young drivers and tuners are learning. Jensen explains the program's intention is to get kids off the street and on the drag strip. Teaching kids that the drag strip is the appropriate environment to safely push their cars to the limit and compete with friends and fellow racers is the program's mission. To avoid confusion, street-legal drag racing does not condone the reckless driving that is often times mislabeled by the media as drag racing on the street. Drag racing is contested on the drag strip. Reckless driving unwisely takes place on public streets.

Jake and Coty are excited to be competing in the Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing. This is the biggest event either driver has participated in and they are thrilled to be out here. Jensen also wishes to extend a special thanks to driver Coty Johnson's dad, Mike, who provides the transportation of Jensen's Mustang driven by Coty.

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