And now, a word about those sponsors


November 08, 1992|By STAN DILLON

Sponsorship plays an important part in motor sports on every level. It's as important to the grass-roots driver as it is to the drivers on the NASCAR and IndyCar circuits.

With sponsorship, the driver gains the financial resources that can make a difference between a winning and losing season.

In return, the sponsor receives exposure to a large, virtually untapped market.

Jesse Wentz of Manchester has been racing sprint cars for nine years. Because he competes on the central Pennsylvania circuit, considered the most competitive in the country, sprint car racing is expensive. It can cost as much to race sprint cars as it does to field a Grand National ride.

Because of this expense, Wentz hasn't been able to race as often as he would like. He has been racing once a week, mostly at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, Pa.

Halfway through the 1992 racing season, Wentz's dream came true. He landed a ride with major sponsors, Cooper Motors (the Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Hanover, Pa.), Mick Builders of Hanover and Beasely Ford of York, Pa.

"I had heard that there might be a change in the drivers and I called Kenny Cooper, the car owner, to let him know that I was interested in the ride," said Wentz, 30.

Wentz realized it was a long shot and that other drivers were calling for the ride, too, but he felt he had a good chance.

Wentz was asked to take over the ride. He couldn't believe he had the ride he had always dreamed about.

"I had been waiting for this for a long time," said Wentz. "I have always wanted to race three nights a week. For nine years I could only afford to race once a week. Kenny Cooper has put me in a car that can race competitively three nights a week."

It took time for Wentz to get comfortable with the ride. The car is powered by a 410-cubic-inch aluminum block Ford that produces more than 700 horsepower. It is the only Ford-powered sprinter in the area.

"It has taken me awhile to get used to the car," said Wentz, who drove his own custom-built chassis before. "The response of the motor is different from a Chevrolet, its torque is different and it handles different."

But as the season progressed, Wentz and the new ride showed weekly improvement. In addition to the engine and the chassis, Wentz was working with a new pit crew.

Being able to communicate with them, explaining how the car is working and the adjustments required, is a major part of racing.

"The pit crew is great. It is so different now," said Wentz. "They maintain the car in a shop in New Oxford [Pa]. In the past I did

most of the work on the car. Now all I have to do is concentrate on driving."

The car is maintained by Wayne Bull, Jim Groff and Greg Castle. Mike Grim does the motors.

Wentz has been asked to race the car again next year. He will have two new Gambler chassis and three motors to start the year. Never in his career has he had an opportunity to start a season with more than one motor and one chassis.

Wentz has come a long way since racing go-carts. He has been one of the most consistent drivers at Lincoln Speedway.

In 1993, Wentz will race at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Susquehanna Speedway in Newberrytown, Pa. The additional track time will help Wentz even more.

Car owner Cooper has selected a top driver in Wentz, and Wentz has gained one of the top sponsors in sprint car racing.

It is tough to win in central Pennsylvania, but this new team has the ingredients to make a major impact on the local sprint car racing scene with Wentz behind the wheel.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.