SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Correspondent Steven Ovens — Michelle Hebing photo —
Life is pretty good right now for young 305 Sprint Car pilot Kelly Hebing.
The Ontario, N.Y. driver nicknamed ‘Lil’ Cobra’ is set to embark on another season behind the wheel of the SUNY Canton, Danny Willmes Enterprises, Mohawk Northeast, Cobra Coaches, Cook’s Contracting, L&J Landscaping, One Zee Tees, Pilat Graphic Design No. 10.
Hebing is set to not only compete in 305 competition but will also tackle Sprint Car racing of the 360 flavor — with a Donath Motorworx powerplant under the hood.
“I’m going to be dipping my feet into the 360 this year,” Hebing said with a wide grin. “We got hooked up with Donath Motorworx and we will have a motor for four to six races for me to get comfortable with the 360.”
The younger racing Hebing is fearless — and if you have ever had the pleasure of seeing her father compete you’d know exactly where that came from. Kelly has had success, took a few tumbles and brushed herself off and got right back in the seat. Her father, Chuck Hebing, has made a very successful career making moves and running lines other drivers wouldn’t dare to take. That talent and ‘fortitude’ has ranked him among the top 360 Sprint Car drivers in the nation, and is the knowledge center that Kelly gets to tap into to allow her to develop as a driver.
As far as scheduling goes, she will look to compete in as many tour stops as her team can on the CRSA 305 Sprint Tour, which was acquired by Patriot Sprint Tour owner and promoter Mike Emhof. There are several dates where the 305 tour pairs up with a 360 tour event of some type which will make the situation ideal for both Kelly and Chuck to compete at the same track on the same night. There will also be some 305 Sprint weekly competition dates at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, where she will search for victory lane at the ‘Land of Legends’ where her family has so much history.
Hebing is able to travel around and dabble in this schedule and that schedule because of the incredible support she receives from her family and her sponsors that return year after year to be on the side of her car. Danny Willmes has been a supporter from day one, being Hebing’s car owner and the person that stepped up to give her the shot to step up from Micro Sprints to a full-sized 305 Sprint Car several seasons ago.
There’s also no doubt that her ability to speak with the media, fans, her competitors and sponsors has helped Hebing retain the sponsorship she needs to stay on the track.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in motorsports — you have to talk to people to know people to get anywhere in this sport.”
Sponsors like SUNY Canton, an ongoing sponsor of the No. 10 for several seasons, and now for 2016 a new sponsor in Mohawk Northeast.
“It’s an honor to have Al and Betsy come onboard,” said Hebing Saturday at Motorsports Expo 2016. “The name they give in motorsports, it’s just an honor to have them with us. When you talk about top teams, you look at HBR. It’s really cool what they do for the sport and it’s really amazing that they wanted to come onboard.”
Hebing also shared that the last couple of seasons wouldn’t have been possible without the support of SUNY Canton, led by the soon-to-be-retiring Mike Perry. Hebing is a graduate of Canton in graphic design and shared her first career win with them at Fulton Speedway two seasons ago.
“Having Mike Perry be a part of the team for the last 4 seasons has been a lot of fun,” Hebing said. “He was my first real sponsor I brought on to help the team out and has stuck with us the longest. My first win came from his home track, which was a great thing to experience with him. He has been a part of so many outlets in the motorsports world it’s going to be hard to watch him go, but something (time off) that he of all people deserves.”
Hebing and family prepare to tackle the upcoming race season with a level of excitement and confidence that is contagious. This young driver continues to improve year after year and looks to only build on that experience when she gets the chance to try out the 360 for a handful of races this season.
Write the name Kelly Hebing down. You’re going to have a lot of reasons to remember that one for many seasons to come.
Listen in to Race Chaser Online’s audio interview with Kelly Hebing this past weekend at Motorsports Expo 2016:
About the Writer
Steven Ovens is the Northeast Dirt Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and the creator and host of the Turn 5 Live dirt track racing radio show, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern every Tuesday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Ovens has spent his lifetime in the sport of dirt track racing, growing up in the garages of the Kerrick and Ovens families. He spent 11 years behind the wheel between go-karts and 4 Cylinder Mini Stocks which brings a unique perspective to his dirt track editorials.
The 29-year-old has a career in the growing health care business world, and is also serving as the full-time announcer and PR Director for both Outlaw Speedway (formerly Black Rock Speedway) in Dundee, N.Y. and Woodhull Raceway in Woodhull, N.Y.
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