Niles NASCAR event draws fans of all ages

Published 2:11 am Monday, May 23, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - NASCAR fans and racing enthusiasts were in for a treat on Saturday. The area of Third Street between Main and Sycamore Streets drew young and old alike to see Carl Edward's racing car up close.
Gary Hoeft, of Lavonia, is a representative of Rousch Racing who partnered with AAA to sponsor the event. Dressed in racing attire, Hoeft posed for pictures with young fans beside the famous car and passed out small memorabilia posters.
Other racing cars and their drivers were also there to display their cars and talk with passerby.
Doug True who races car #93 and Cricket Butler whose car is #12 are both sponsored by Motor Sports of Niles. The body styles of both cars were Monte Carlos and were part of the ASA late model series which compete in a 100 lap race when traveling the racing circuit.
According to True, the rules require that the bodies and motors of the cars that are competing must be the same, even though the cars may be decorated differently. That evens out the competition and places the real challenge on the driver's skill instead of relying on innovations to the car to gain the speed to win.
True said that the drivers will be racing next week in Madison, Wis., followed by competitions as far west as Odessa, Mo., as far east as Jennerstown, Pa., then headed south to Indianapolis, Ind.
Kalamazoo is the closest race track to find their racing series, according to True. He said the next race there will be on July 1 and the drivers always enjoy the support of local residents at those races.
Also on the racing circuit is a young man who is a student at Niles High School. Nicholas (Nick) Hansen, who is a 15-year-old competitor and a racing buff for a number of years, displayed the USAC (United States Auto Club) Focus Midget car he will be racing on both 3/8 and quarter mile tracks in the near future. The car is owned by G and G Auto Services of Niles.
Hansen will be racing the car in Anderson, Ind. on Wednesday followed by a race at the Indianapolis Speedrome on Thursday.
For the past five years, starting at age 10, Hansen has tried his hand at Sand Drag Racing. Three years ago he added an 80 cc Shifter Kart to the list followed by a Yamaha 100 cc Go Kart. Currently he drives an ICC 125cc Shifter Kart and the Focus Midget he displayed on Saturday.
Hansen said his biggest passion is racing and he plans to continue moving up the ladder of success for a long time to come. He is grateful for the support of the Niles community and hopes to represent his hometown as he pursues his racing career.
Also featured at the Saturday event were a series of "virtual reality" cars that youth could sit in and drive with a simulator. They donned virtual headsets and turned steering wheels, taking on the persona of their race track heroes if only for a few moments.