From Friday Dec. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 22, the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway roared back to life as the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards began their winter testing in preparation for the Daytona ARCA 200 on Feb. 15.
A total of sixty drivers took to the track for Saturday's test, all of whom trying their best to impress the team owners and sponsors in the hopes of being picked up for the entire season. Though drivers with the last names of Allison, Kimmel, Elliott, and Nemechek dominated the early coverage of the event, Josh "White Lightning" White has quietly made his way up the speed chart.
"It is amazing to be in Daytona, a place this historic and iconic is just phenomenal," stated an emotional White. "It's a feeling as a driver, you can't put it in words."
The 22 year old up and coming driver from Charleston, WV has high hopes for his future in stock cars. His racing career began in the world of IHRA drag racing in 2007, and moved into the circle racing realm in 2011 in IMCA. He made his ARCA debut in 2012, and has become a fixture at several of the series events for the past two years.
As with many of the drivers in today's competitive economic climate, White has been left to try and find his own sponsorship in order to pursue his racing career.
"I am currently looking for sponsors for the 2014 season and I am trying really hard to get sponsorship for the Daytona ARCA race on February 15th," White added. "Ever since September I have sent out over 2,500 emails, and it has been tough finding what I need."
In between his speed runs on Sunday, White took a few moments to sit down with the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner.
1. Why did you decide to get involved in auto racing?
"When I was four years old. I first saw the movie Days of Thunder when I was that age, and watched it over and over again, and watched NASCAR on Sundays, and knew ever since then that it was what I wanted to do with my life. All my life, I've been striving to work towards that ultimate goal. My dream is to run at Daytona and win at Daytona and be successful in my racing career to work my way up the racing ladder to the NASCAR Sprint Cup."
2. What is your favorite racing memory?
"Daytona is an amazing track, and this is one of my dreams come true. It's been very emotional in a good way. Yesterday I literally cried tears of joy for fifteen minutes. Before that, my favorite memory is Toledo Speedway, when I made my ARCA truck series debut. That was a really great experience, even though I had problems and I didn't do very well. Throughout the entire race I didn't have any communication, started having motor trouble, and still ended up in the top 15. Overall, I love racing. It's where my heart is at, and it's what I want to do."
3. With the current economy, how difficult is it for drivers like you to market themselves to sponsors?
"It's very hard to find the right one, and also kind of challenging to get them at the right time. Everyone has different schedules for when they set their budgets for advertising, this and that. The cool part about it, though, the part that makes it easier for them to say yes, is the tax break. The money they spend sponsoring this program is 100% tax deductible, and they're getting advertising, making business relationships, and reaching out to consumers."
4. Aside from yourself, who are the drivers to watch out for in 2014?
"From what I've seen so far in the series, especially in testing, I believe that defending Daytona winner John Wes Townley is going to be a tough competitor. As far as the top driver that's going to do the full season, Frank Kimmel is going to be a really tough driver to beat. Even though he changed teams, he's a phenomenal driver. I think Justin Boston and Spencer Gallagher are going to be up there. I would say me, but I'm only doing a few select races, and am trying to get the sponsorship I need for Daytona."
5. What is your favorite racecar?
"In the cars we are driving here, you can really get a feel for them. The trucks in the ARCA truck series, on the other hand, are really light, with a lot of power, and were a lot of fun. They are a great way to get your feet wet in ARCA as well, but you can't get as good a feel for them as you can with the ARCA cars. With the ARCA cars, the competition is really great. It's really racy. The competition is a challenge, which is what we really like to see, and what keeps everybody interested. To keep challenging yourself, and keep building your resume so you can get where you want to be. It's great. I love ARCA cars."
6. What are your goals for the 2014 season?
"If I get enough sponsorship to run Daytona, and of course I want to go for the win. If I don't, oh well. When it comes down to the next races that I will do; probably Talladega, Pocono, and a few others. The main goal is just to go forward and to learn, to get more experience and to deliver services to my sponsors. To make them happy, to help them grow with their motorsports programs. that is my 2014 goal. I'm going to go at it full boar. I'm not going to let anyone down, and I'm going to do the best at what I do."
7. How do you feel about the general state of motorsports in the 21st century?
"I think it's kind of like the stock market, as far as ratings and how you're going to sell your sponsorship, or whether you're going to get it versus another series or versus another race. It all depends on your ratings and where the economy is in certain areas. It's really tough. For me, I'm sticking to what I'm doing. I've seen a lot of drivers, even up to NASCAR Nationwide, leaving the series and going somewhere else as a result of lack of sponsorship and all that.I completely understand and respect their decision, but I feel as though I want to stay here at ARCA and stick to my plan because I believe the market in ARCA and NASCAR, instead of going down like it has been, is going back up."
8. How's the test going so far?
"The test is going great. We're not too sure if I'm going to get to go back out today to draft. They have like 12 drivers or so, and only had three cars to start out with. The first day, one went down. The second day, another went down. Now, we're down to one car, and there are four other drivers still trying to get certified. If they can get them through today, I'll be able to get out again. Overall, I'm extremely happy. I've had the greatest experience of my life. The best time of my life. I absolutely love Daytona. ARCA cleared me and told me that I can come back in February to make the show, so I know as soon as I get home I'm going to be on nothing but sponsorship. I want to get here. I want to get here really bad. I'm really itching, and want to make the show."
The West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner wishes to thank Josh White for his enthusiasm in helping to make this interview happen. He plans on competing in several races in 2014, but he needs all the financial help he can get. If you're a small business owner, large business owner, or simply a race fan who wants to donate to a good cause, send him an email. You could be part of something great. Serious inquiries only, please.
Check out live timing and scoring from the Daytona test at the ARCA Racing Series website, and learn more about this unique stock car racing organization. Be sure to subscribe to the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner, and keep track of your favorite racers. If you're a motorsports fan, and know of an event, team, or person you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about local getaways,HOAs,elections, and restaurants.