Thursday, Oct 06

RACE 101 students nearing the finish line

Thursday, Oct 27 4249

Success is measured in various ways. With 2011 coming to an end RACE 101 students past and present have surpassed many goals.

While on-track results speak volumes RACE 101’s curriculum involves much more than competitiveness.

“Every one of our students comes with a different goal,” said RACE 101 Founder and head instructor Tony Blanchard. “We work with them to relate what we teach with how it can help them in the present.

“In many cases our students need sponsorship to continue racing at their current level, and in other cases they’re trying to advance through the ranks. Some of our students are happy where they are, and they want to learn everything they can to improve their situation. We pride ourselves in catering to each student’s individual needs.”

At the end of the program each year a Premier Driver is chosen to compete in the RACE 101 presented by Howe Racing Products super late model with McGunegill horsepower under the hood.

This weekend at Hickory Motor Speedway RACE 101’s premier driver from the class of 2010 Trevor Edwards will compete. Program founder Tony Blanchard spent a couple days last week testing. The first day was with current student from Maine Trevor Sanborn. The second day was with less-experienced Edwards.

2011 RACE 101 Premier Driver, Trevor Edwards with the RACE 101/Howe Super Late Model

“The test day was amazing,” said Edwards. “The car feels awesome. I needed more work than the car, but I think we’ll be in great shape for the Hickory race.”

Edwards was chosen as premier driver for his outstanding efforts while in the RACE 101 program both on track and off track. He balanced competitiveness on the track with the necessary time focusing on sponsorship and promotional work to impress RACE 101 faculty. His reward is the opportunity to race the RACE 101 super late model with Tony Blanchard as crew chief.

RACE 101 is now taking applications from race drivers for our 2012 Racing Scholarship Program. Learn more and apply at

Scholarship applications are open for the RACE 101 class of 2012, and the battle is on with this year’s group to be named premier driver for the current class. The program has seen great success in its second year. The proof is evident scanning through the current RACE 101 roster.

Brandon Atkinson recently made his asphalt stock car debut. The impressive 15-year-old relocated from Virginia to Statesville, North Carolina, where he could chase his racing dream. Atkinson has seen success racing dirt cars, but the choice to launch a pavement career in one of Hickory Motor Speedway’s toughest classes was a difficult one. Atkinson had a great fourth place result in the prestigious Dwight Huffman Memorial 100-lap event for limited late models at Hickory recently.


Brandon Atkinson prepares to make his late model and pavement racing debut at Hickory Motor Speedway. The 15 year old impressed with a 4th place finish the first time out.

“I was confident we could have a strong finish if I kept my nose clean and stayed patient,” said Atkinson. “We only qualified 13th, but I knew the car was better than that. I’m excited about the strong run.”

On the same weekend thousands of miles away Sarah Cornett-Ching attended the ARCA OK Tire Sportsman Series banquet. The charismatic British Columbia racer was awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Driver Awards to go with her eighth place in the points standings. The stellar ARCA result was accompanied by her debut in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driving the ‘Cruisin for a Cause’-sponsored Jason White entry.

Canadian racer Sarah Cornett -Ching with her awards from the 2011 ARCA OK Tire Sportsman Series Banquet. Sarah was able to use many facets from the RACE 101 program to advance different areas of her career.

“This was a great way to end our season,” said  Cornett-Ching. “If you told me last winter I would have raced in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this year and won all these awards I’m not sure I would have believed it. I’m already overwhelmed making plans for 2012.”

One of RACE 101’s youngest students is Derek Robbie from Bellingham, Massachusetts. Robbie’s two open-wheel modified wins are impressive this season, but even more impressive is the extensive promotional schedule run by the 13-year-old. Robbie contacted his local Chamber of Commerce and opened numerous doors through charitable appearances and promotional events. The youngster plans to expand on that in 2012.

Derek Robbie combined his cross country running skills with a charity promotion that included appearing with his race car.  Derek has also been able to improve his press release writing skills working with RACE 101 instructors and has created a solid media and blog following for his racing.

“I can’t believe how much I learned this year,” said Robbie. “RACE 101 has shown me that there’s opportunities available to all of us. We just need to open the right doors.”

New England provided a great deal of talented young racers to RACE 101. Veteran Super Late Model racer Trevor Sanborn came to increase his understanding of the race cars he’s seen great success with while teenagers Tommy Stilphen and Sulo Burbank are newcomers to full-sized race cars in the northeast.

Sanborn recently enjoyed his test day with Blanchard in the RACE 101 house car.

“The goal was to get a good feel for the race car,” said Sanborn. “Every time Tony touched the car we got faster.

“At the start of the day we were hitting the rev limiter going into the corner. By the end of the day I was on the rev limiter at the start finish line. We did that just by adjusting shocks.”

Sanborn is among RACE 101’s more decorated drivers, but he fits right in with the rest of the class.

Trevor Sanborn in victory lane with his own Howe 101 chassis this spring at Beech Ridge Speedway. Trevor used what he learned about race car set-ups and applied it to his own program. He also wanted to better on his in-car communication skills and was able to do that working one on one with RACE 101's Tony Blanchard.

“The way we’ve developed our program it applies to an experienced racer as much as it does a rookie,” said Blanchard. “We teach theories and principles of racing that are relevant on dirt or asphalt and regardless of the division.

“The public relations and media relations side of the course is applicable to all forms of racing of any type. We’re confident that our curriculum stacks up to any in the market.”

Burbank’s season went better than he anticipated. The Maine teenager won Rookie of the Year in his family’s Super Late Model at Canaan Fair Speedway, and in the ‘Six Pack Series’ he is third in standing just 5 points out of first.

Sulo Burbank worked hard on the track this year and also worked on promoting his team sponsors, seen here in his hometown Memorial Day Parade. Sulo is one of our younger students, but presents himself in a very professional manner.

“I came into this season hoping to win Rookie of the Year,” said Burbank. “We did that, and I was a competitive top five car every week. I have a full season under my belt now, and I’m looking forward to next year.”

While New England provided strong students, South Carolina also had its share. Daniel Alvarez, Amanda Lynch and Bryce Malcolm all attended RACE 101 this year from South Carolina.

Lynch suffered problems early in the season, and her race team is regrouping and looking towards the future.

Daniel ‘the Hammer’ Alvarez used his outgoing personality and strong networking skills to introduce himself to local media and race teams with great results.

South Carolina racer, Daniel Alvarez jumped on garnering media exposure right out of the gate this year opening up many new contacts and opportunities for himself and his racing career.

“I could write a book on the things I’ve learned this year,” said Alvarez. “I think the best thing about RACE 101 has been the people. I’ve met people who really want to see me succeed in racing.

“The steps I’ve taken in the past year have taken me from local dirt tracks to working on a Nationwide team at Bristol. It will only get better from here.”

The Hammer races dirt cars in South Carolina, and when bad luck left his race car destroyed he turned towards networking. He will return to competition before long, but in the meantime he’s enjoying his time on a NASCAR pit crew.

Our three students from South Carolina, Bryce Malcolm, Amanda Lynch and Daniel Alvarez worked together on media and landed a guest spot on a morning television show.

“My understanding of my race car is far better than it was last year,” said Malcolm. “I won a race and finished top five in the points standings. Knowing what to do on the race car to make it better made things much easier.”

RACE 101 had a strong Canadian contingent again in 2011. Along with Cornett-Ching who raced stock cars on the west coast Luke Whitteker and Shayne Pierce campaigned dirt modifieds in Ontario.

Whitteker started the season racing his own car at Cornwall Speedway, and he drove for another team in Quebec. The challenge of multiple race cars led him to leave the second team and focus on his own car. The results were impressive.


Ontario's Luke Whitteker used his on-track performance in combination with raising funds for a local children's hospital.

“It was a learning year,” said Whitteker. “I was excited to race for another team, but I found it much more productive to drive our own equipment and stay on top of adjustments.

“We had a fantastic year away from the track. We raised a lot of money for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and I have some great sponsor opportunities heading towards next year.”

The opposite was true for Pierce. He drove his family-owned modified at Merrittville Speedway, and during the season he clinbed into another car to compete at Humberstone Speedway with great success.

“It really helped my confidence to get some wins at Humberstone Speedway,” said Pierce. “Racing at different tracks forced me to learn more about the set up on my car, and we worked with local sponsors to do some car displays and build a program to help our team.”

A little south of the Ontario dirt racer Mike Mahaney was making waves in the New York modified racing circuit. Mahaney picked up his first career victory at the competitive Fulton Speedway, and his new technical knowledge was an asset as he traveled to some of the area’s biggest events.


Mike Mahaney ran over 50 races this year all over Upstate NY and was able to utilize the technical knowledge he learned at RACE 101 to give him a competitive edge and even start his own shock building service.

“We raced more than 50 races this year, and I’d say it was a big success,” said Mahaney. “I won my first feature, and I won a track championship at Cayuga County Fair Speedway.

“My goal was to learn about shocks as much as anything else. They’re so important to the car, and I found a huge difference once I started making more educated changes.”

Mahaney actually started tuning shocks for competitors, and one of his customers won the 2011 Fulton Speedway Sportsman Championship.

Jerry Tunney of Pennsylvania also races on dirt, and on to pavement late models in 2011, and he is quite satisfied with his performance in the more powerful race cars.

Jerry Tunney used his RACE 101 scholarship notoriety to open doors for himself with local sponsors.

“We raced this season with an older chassis and motor,” said Tunney. I applied everything I learned from RACE 101, and we ended up being pretty competitive.

“I had one pole position, and five top five finishes. I couldn’t be happier with the season, and I’m looking forward already to next year.”

Virginia is home for Anthony Perez. The RACE 101 student competed at the famous Langley Speedway this season, and he accomplished various goals.


Anthony Perez made the most of his rookie year at Langley Speedway by interacting with the fans and gaining mentorship from experienced  racers at the track.

“I was competitive all year, and I finished in the top five of most of my races,” said Perez. “I finished fourth in points, and I learned a lot about networking.”

Perez partnered with local Langley racing mentor and coach, Hudson Hall to increase his marketability and help his learning curve on the track.


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