|Date: 10/6/2015 10:45:52 PM|
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Bockhorn Continues To
Impress As SpeedSTRs Invade Five Mile Point This Saturday, October 10
by BARRY ANGSTADT
Bockhorn buckles into his sharp looking No. 97 this weekend at Five Mile Point
Speedway in Kirkwood, NY, he will continue an impressive
rookie season in the
USAC All Pro SpeedSTR division.
hails from Bloomingdale, NJ, was a fixture on the various Slingshot Tours for
five years before he decided to make the switch to the increasingly popular
SpeedSTR class. The mechanic at Ebers Auto notched ten victories during his
time in the Slingers, with the biggest coming in Penn Can's Small Car Nationals
the best thing to learn in," says Bockhorn about the All Star Slingshots.
"I really feel like they prepared me for whatever step I took next, and
that step was into the SpeedSTRs." With a chuckle he added that he
"bought my Slingshot on a Wednesday and raced it at Hamlin on
His foray into
the SpeedSTR division took a bit longer, but he was fully prepared and rarin'
to go when the 2015 season began at the JeffreyHogueRealtor.com Action Track
USA on the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
a car from Frank Yankowski - it belonged to Paul Lotier before that - and over
the winter we put a new rear and front end on the car, along with pretty much
everything else that bolts on...the chassis was the same, but that was about it
by the time we were finished with it," explained Bockhorn.
Lotier told him
it would take at least one full season to learn to drive the SpeedSTR. "I
thought 'no way', but he was right," notes Bockhorn, who started slowly
but quickly gained speed in the car after listening to fellow chauffeur Tim
said 'you've really got to throw the car into the corner', and once I learned
to do that and got myself to do it all the time, my speed picked up and I was
definitely more competitive," said Bockhorn.
He used the
group time trial sessions utilized by Action Track USA to gauge his progress.
"We went from around 25th fastest in the beginning to the teens, and then
into the top ten," he pointed out. And his rise in the qualifying sessions
occurred in rapid fashion, as his immaculate white No. 97 timed seventh
quickest for the Ronnie Tobias Memorial event in mid-June.
highlights - so far - of Bockhorn's rookie season happened on successive
Wednesdays, with a heat race triumph on July 22nd trumped only by an exciting
third place finish in the following week's 30-lap main event.
really have to pedal these things," he says, "and I'm getting used to
that. To summarize my first year of running in this class, I'd have to say 'so
far, so good.' There's definitely more give and take in this class, and I like
While the third
place effort produced some thoughts about possibly winning in his rookie
season, Bockhorn is realistic and knows he's competing against some of the best
in the business; drivers who have, quite literally, thousands more laps in a
race car than he does. You simply don't go out and beat guys with last names
like Pauch, Brightbill, Mahaney, Planck, Buckwalter, and Paules on a regular
basis when you're the new kid on the block.
a steady heat race qualifier on the progressive banking of Action Track USA,
but several feature finishes of 12th through 15th led to a 15th place when the
final points were tallied. Not too shabby, especially when the caliber of
competition at the Berks County oval is taken into consideration.
Now come the National
All Pro Tour races, and Bockhorn started out with a steady run at Linda's
Speedway on September 19. He is heading to Five Mile Point's American Racer Cup
event this Saturday, October 10, to gain more experience and, hopefully,
impress even more folks who will be watching.
rookie campaign will end at Grandview's Fall Jamboree on October 31st and
November 1st, when the Action Track USA staff takes over the Bechtelsville oval
for its annual season ending biggie, where National Championships are decided
for the SpeedSTRs, All Star and Junior Slingshots. The Pioneer Pole Building
Wingless 600cc Sprints will also be on the menu at the Fall Jamboree.
And the white
No. 97 SpeedSTR will be towed to all these races, as is the norm, using an old
school style open trailer. "I like the fact that people can see the race
car," says Bockhorn, "and it's cool when they go by and give us a
John and his
fiance`, Michelle, travel up and down the highway going to the speedways where
the SpeedSTRs compete. And Bockhorn can see himself staying in the class for
years to come.
"Financially, these cars make sense. We're runnin' for more money than most
modifieds and crate modifieds run for, and I know that some of the 'crate guys'
have about $40,000 in their cars and they run for $400 to win. And these
SpeedSTRs, they're economical to run. As long as you don't bust 'em up too bad,
it doesn't cost that much to run them each week. And one person can maintain
the car, too...you don't need a large crew to get them ready to race."
When he was a
kid, Bockhorn's grandparents took him to Orange County Fair Speedway in
Middletown, NY, as well as to other tracks where the dirt Modifieds race. His
grandparents were friends with Ed Farley and the Bottcher family, along with
Jerry Higbie. Hanging around well known, veteran racers like them proved to be
an education of sorts for Bockhorn, and he learned the value of being able to
go to others for advice and suggestions.
Lotier, who gladly provides guidance to the rookie, for his marked improvement
over the course of the year. Bockhorn also says that Tim Buckwalter has been
very helpful with advice and tips on how to get faster in the SpeedSTR.
In addition to
Michelle's support as a crew member, Walter Bennett also helps out at the
track. And Bockhorn has been able to line up a nice array of sponsors for his
financial and product backing are Creative Auto Interiors, Ebers Auto, D&D
Produce, John Fogg Exc., JBJ Electric, Lakeland Auto Parts, Stosh's Pickles,
Slinger Warehouse, and Bagel Rack.
outgoing and friendly personality have made him a favorite with the fans and
with his competitors. His improvement on the track, along with a 'keep your
nose clean' driving style, has also opened many eyes during his first season of
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