Family Legacy…. Whitney Heydenreich Carries on Tradition of Open Wheel Racers

Date: 7/10/2009 3:31:22 PM

Family Legacy…. Whitney Heydenreich Carries on Tradition of Open Wheel
By Dino Oberto …. “Keeping Track” 

Whitney Heydenreich is a member of a famous family of racers and now the 21-year old Bloomsburg resident is getting the chance to prove herself as well. She has been racing since age five, starting with go-karts then quarter midgets, slingshots and most recently micro sprints.

Last year she was offered a ride in a sprint car at Clinton County Raceway and after a delayed start in 2009, she is all set to make her return to action.

Heydenreich was given the opportunity to drive the C & C Property Management car owned by Ken Yermal of Ashley.

“It all came together about two years ago. We were making plans to run a sprint car and do some wingless shows with USAC out in Indiana but so far we only raced at Clinton County which was last year,” said Heydenreich who is majoring in Economics at Bloomsburg University.

“We were all set to go last Friday but they got rained out and I was looking forward to that. Next week hopefully the weather will be more cooperative and I’ll get my first race in.”

Yermal has known Heydenreich since her days in quarter midgets where she raced against his son. He has fielded sprint cars for a number of years between here and the Midwest where he is partnered with Eddie Sachs, Jr. They maintain Sachs/Yermal Motorsports near Detroit, a developmental company for drivers looking to break into USAC and the Indy Racing League’s Indy Lights division.

Choosing Heydenreich to drive the sprinter did not take much thought on his part.

“There is six decades of racing history in her family plus I’ve watched her from a young age and there is no question she has the talent to handle a sprint car,” said Yermal.

Up until last year, Heydenreich has seen most of her action in micro sprints so adapting to the more powerful sprinter has been a learning curve but in the short order she has done a nice job in familiarizing herself with the car.

 “It’s a big change for me. I love it though. You have to really drive harder with the sprint car because it’s much more powerful than the micro. It’s more about throttle control and at a place like Clinton County I feel it’s a good learning experience,” said Heydenreich.

Being a 1/3-mile in size, Clinton County is perfect choice to learn the proper techniques of the car. The competition is very even and a driver is always in traffic.

“I think that being at a smaller track helps me with my driving and learning about how the car will handle. I really didn’t want to start out at a bigger track like Selinsgrove.

             “I ran the micro a few times at Clinton County so I kind of have a little experience there especially racing with traffic which is common at that track.” 

Of the many race car drivers from throughout the Bloomsburg and surrounding areas, Heydenreich is one that stands at the forefront. They are a family of racers which began with the patriarch, Freddy, a midget car racer from the 1950’s and ‘60’s who laid the foundation for two more generations to follow in his tracks.

             Oldest son Johnny has always been considered one of the finest racers to ever come out of this region with countless midget and sprint wins. His brother Fred was also a standout in midgets.

             Whitney’s dad, Rich, dabbled in the sport as a driver but is now busy with his son Eric who like his cousins, has made a name for himself in midget cars.

             “I think it’s definitely in my blood because I just love going to the races to watch my brother when I’m not racing my own car. I like to help him with his car and lend support in any way possible,” said Heydenreich.

With Eric’s experience with the midgets he’s been able to relate that to his sister and make the correlation with the sprinter. She also relies on her famous cousin, Johnny, who is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to open wheel racing.

Midget cars are where the Heydenreich’s have had their most glory and although she is getting the opportunity to run a sprinter, she would jump at the chance to race a midget. 

             “I’d still love to get into a midget but financially we still can’t. I’m thankful I’m getting the chance to run the sprint car and I’ll focus on that and try to get better every week,” she said.

             Heydenreich will run most of the remaining season at Clinton County and there are plans to do some events in Indiana and Illinois which is the country’s hotbed of sprint car racing.

             “We’ll run out the rest of the year at Clinton County. I’m looking to be pretty consistent, get some top fives and maybe, hopefully get a win along the way and learn as much as I can.

             “I’m pretty lucky. I kind of felt I’d just be racing micros for most of my career. I’ve always wanted to drive a sprint car and then to have Kenny (Yermal) call and offer me the ride has turned into a great opportunity for me."


Return-to-Dino Oberto - Keeping Track