• Great Response About BMR’s Driver Combine/Racing Seminar
ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2015) – The NAPA Filters Drivers Expo was a tremendous success, based on the immediate feedback of everyone in attendance at the first-ever event put on by Bill McAnally Racing.
The program – a blend of driver combine and racing seminar, which was attended by 11 talented young drivers – was held Thursday and Friday at BMR’s facilities in Roseville, California and at nearby All American Speedway.
“We’ve been thrilled with the response from all of the participants,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “We have also had some great feedback from everyone else involved with the event. It seemed to be a big win for everybody involved.”
Drivers who attended represented a very diverse racing background. They came from seven states and two foreign countries.
Participates included Amber Balcaen, 23, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Ariel Biggs, 20, of Hoquiam, Washington; Eddie Cheever III, 22, of Rome; Todd Gilliland, 15, of Sherrils Ford, North Carolina; Brock Heger, 15, of El Centro, California; Riley Herbst, 16, of Las Vegas; Mariah McGriff, 20, Vail, Arizona; Kyle Plott, 19, Marietta, Georgia; Vanessa Robinson, 25, of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Blaine Rocha, 17, of Oakdale, California; and Zane Smith, 16, of Mooresville, North Carolina.
“We were able to put together a great program for these drivers, both on and off the track,” McAnally said. “We challenged them on many avenues and they responded in a positive way, demonstrating their talents and future potential.”
Fox television analyst Larry McReynolds was a featured speaker on both days of the event.
“What an unbelievable two-day event that Bill McAnally and his staff put together,” McReynolds said. “I was so impressed at the talent pool of young drivers that were there and how they were like sponges in everything that was thrown at them in two days.
“I only wish there would have been something like this combine a few years ago as we were trying to find the next step for Brandon,” he said. “I can’t wait for the next event.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland attended the event to observe as his son, Todd, as a participant in the program.
“As a father and a racer, knowing how tough the racing business is, this combine was a great opportunity for these great young racers to learn an incredible amount of valuable information,” Gilliland said. “I am 100 percent confident Todd has learned many necessary tools at this event that he needs to be a successful race car driver.
“I wish there was something like this when I was his age,” Gilliland said. “This was an awesome experience and I think this is an event that will be around for many years to come.”
In addition to McReynolds, other featured speakers included John Uhl, President of NAPA Sacramento; Bart Riebe, the owner of 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS stores in Northern California; Jack Irving of Toyota/TRD; Paul Kortman, Brand/Category Marketing Manager-WIX/NAPA Filters; and Ken Clapp, former NASCAR Vice President for Western Operations and now a senior consultant to the sanctioning body.
“We were fortunate to have some very experienced people in the motorsports industry who participated in the event with very informative presentations,” McAnally said. “Everybody came together in providing a well-rounded program aimed at fueling the careers of these young drivers. I want to thank everybody who contributed to the success of the event.”
News media from the Sacramento area, meanwhile, played a key role in the two-day program, providing coverage while also giving the participants valuable experience in front of a camera and participating in a press conference.
The drivers were paired with a coach from among a group of championship and race-winning veteran drivers and crew chiefs. On-track action took place at All American Speedway both afternoons. The drivers got behind the wheel of BMR’s NAPA Toyotas to see first-hand what it’s like to drive a NASCAR K&N Pro Series car.
One of the coaches was a former winning driver with BMR, Paulie Harraka.
“It was a lot of fun coming out to the first inaugural NAPA Filters Drivers Expo to see all of the up-and-coming talent in the sport,” Harraka said. “Having the participation of the media and great partners of Bill McAnally Racing such as NAPA Filters and Toyota, and also great key note speakers like Larry McReynolds and Ken Clapp of NASCAR really made this event stand out.”
Another of the coaches was Chris Eggleston, who drives the No. 99 NAPA Filters/H2O Fire Protection Toyota and is atop the championship standings in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
“The weight of a K&N car presented a new challenge to these drivers,” Eggleston said. “There was such a diversity in driving styles that varied from those who over-attacked the corners versus under-attacked them.
“It was encouraging to see each of them progress and absorb feedback from the coaches, while I was able to watch results improve on the stop watch,” he said. “One focus for me as a coach was the driver’s ability to communicate feedback.”