Hampstead's Wareheim works way up late-model ranks

April 11, 1993|By STAN DILLON

No one knows better than Gary Wareheim that success in motor sports comes only with a lot of time and hard work.

After moving into the late-model ranks three years ago, the Hampstead native gradually is making his way up the ladder as a top competitor at area tracks.

Hard work doesn't bother Wareheim, and he loves racing. He has been around it since he was born 25 years ago. Before he could walk, his mother would take Gary and his brother, John Jr., to the races to watch their father.

John Wareheim Sr. raced every week at the Lincoln Speedway in Hanover, Pa., during the '50s and '60s. As soon as the boys were old enough, they were by his side working on the car.

Gary was the first to carry on the family tradition. As soon as he was 16, he got a car of his own. He started in the semi-lates at Lincoln Speedway with his father and brother as part of the crew.

Before the season was over, Gary purchased a used late model. The car wasn't the best, but it was a start. He raced at Lincoln Speedway until they dropped the late-model division in 1988.

Because he did not have the equipment or large motor to compete near home, he went to Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway, a three-hour tow to gain the experience he needed while he saved every penny he earned.

He did well, winning some qualifying races, and had some top 10 finishes in the feature events. But the racing was not up to the level he wanted. At the same time, he realized that it had to do until he could afford more powerful equipment.

To get that equipment, Wareheim knew he had to do it on his own. He saved all of his money. After four years of saving, he purchased a new motor and chassis for the 1990 racing season.

After investing nearly $20,000, he was ready for the most difficult task of all, learning a new car.

Many drivers in late-model racing receive helpful hints from the chassis builders. But young drivers starting out normally have to gain experience and respect before they get the builder's attention.

"We didn't have any help," said Wareheim. "It was a new car and we had to learn everything ourselves. My father taught me a lot, but things have changed since he raced, too. When he raced, he made everything himself. Now, you buy everything custom-built."

With three seasons under his belt, Wareheim feels he knows the car well. Now he has been concentrating on driving.

Last year, the hard work began to pay off. He ran a full season and was running in the top 10 in points at the Winchester (Va.) Speedway before switching to Hagerstown later.

"I am looking forward to this year," said Wareheim. "I have goodequipment and a good motor plan. I had the heads worked on to give me more power and the car ran real good last Sunday at Hagerstown. I could see a difference."

He receives help with his motor program from one of the best, Todd Renfro of Westminster, and Dean Bowman of Manchester Metals does the machine work.

The Wareheim family does most of the work on the car. They work three to four hours every night. To keep breakdowns to a minimum, Gary tears down the motor, a 430-cubic-inch Chevrolet, after 10 to 12 races and replaces the rings and bearings.

In addition to his father and brother, crew help comes from his wife, Kandi, and Mike Burkhouse.

Wareheim also is excited about the new season because it is the first time he has some sponsorship help. C & E Liquors of Hampstead and Video-to-Go in Manchester will provide support.

Little by little, Wareheim has been pursuing his dream of someday racing full-time. In two weeks, the Short Track Auto Racing Stars will invade the Williams Grove (Pa.) and Hagerstown speedways on April 23-24.

Wareheim will be ready to face some of the country's top late-model drivers. Someday he hopes to be traveling the East Coast with them.

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