French Teenager Ready to Battle at Bowman Gray
14-year-old international competitor tested Modified on Wednesday; will race this weekend.
(Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC) This Saturday, the horsepower will be on display during the season opener at Bowman Gray Stadium.
With a record number of entries for the Hayes Jewelers 200, the field for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series will be the toughest competition around. But a 14-year-old international racer plans to throw his hat into the ring and battle with the best.
Amazingly, the first time he drove a Modified was Wednesday.
Thomas Ferrando flew to the U.S. from his hometown of Rians, France – specifically for the purpose of competing at the Stadium on opening night. He hopes that the experience gained in America will propel him to the next step in his career.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in go-karts and racing in the European Championship,” said Ferrando through the use of an interpreter. “I really want to race stock cars, but I’m not allowed to race in Europe until I’m 16.”
The good news for Ferrando is that the American branch of NASCAR recently reduced the driver age requirement. At only 14, he can pilot a Modified around Bowman Gray Stadium.
Ferrando took a few practice laps around the tight quarter-mile on Wednesday, stopping regularly to receive instruction from Randy Butner – the veteran racer who is providing a car for Ferrando to race on Saturday. “He just came over here and got in one of the high horsepower Modified cars for the first time,” said Butner. “And the times that he ran shows that he has a high level of skill. Honestly, I’ve been very impressed with the young man.”
What performance can be anticipated from Ferrando on opening night? “With these high horsepower cars, you can be into the fence or into another car in a split second,” said Butner. “Considering the competition, simply just to be there at the end of 200 laps at a track like Bowman Gray Stadium would be a major accomplishment for any first-time driver.”
When asked about his own expectations, Ferrando humbly joked, “I don’t know how it will turn out.” But he did add that he’ll be running for the checkered flag with all he’s got.
Travelling along with Ferrando are Jerome and Anna Galpin, promoters of the new NASCAR Euro Racecar Touring Series. The Galpins hope to popularize stock car racing in Europe, and hope that Ferrando’s visit will be the beginning of a mutually beneficial bridge between the French and American branches of NASCAR.
On Friday, Ferrando will have a few more chances to get in some practice laps, and then he’ll qualify that night to determine his starting position in the Hayes Jewelers 200.
Then on Saturday, he’ll be competing alongside Bowman Gray’s finest. In addition to the Modified 200-lapper, there will be racing for the Sportsman, Street Stock, and Stadium Stock Divisions. Ticket gates open at 6:00 for practice, and the first race begins at 8:00 PM. Ticket prices, directions, and more information can be found online at www.bowmangrayracing.com or by calling (336) 723-1819.