The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 13, 2013

Oakwood teenager looks for sponsor support


OAKWOOD — Bobby Pierce spends a lot of time just going around in circles. And he hopes to do it more often.

Pierce, a sophomore at Oakwood High School, races in the Super Late Model class at race tracks across the Midwest. Soon, he and his family — father Bob, mother Angie and older sister Ciara — will travel to Florida to compete in races during February.

Racing, however, is not a cheap pursuit. Most racers try to find sponsors to help with the costs. Pierce is in a contest now hoping to win some serious money from the makers of Champion spark plugs.

“I was watching a video on YouTube, and there was an ad about the contest on before the video. I watched it and thought, ‘I could win that.’”

He submitted a video to the contest that can be seen at Viewers can vote for him from among the 160 contestants. A short log-in is required. The 15 with the most votes will win $5,000 each and move on to the finals where the winner can receive $50,000.

The deadline for voting is Feb. 3.

The video, which is just a few minutes long, was a family project. It shows Pierce racing, and he talks about how he started in the sport.

“We could use it,” Pierce said with a laugh during a phone interview Friday.

Viewers’ votes alone will determine the top 15, so Pierce needs all the help he can get. He doesn’t know where he ranks among the 160 contestants. After the final 15 are named, viewers’ votes and judges with Champion will determine the top winner.

Pierce, whose father was a successful race driver beginning at age 17 and now builds cars, competed in his first race at age 8, driving in the Quarter Midget class. As he grew older, he moved up to bigger cars with more power — Kid Modifieds at age 10; Crate Late Models at age 11; and Super Modified Late Model at age 13. All race on dirt tracks.

Pierce raced well enough in 2011 that he earned Rookie of the Year honors in his class on UMP-certified tracks. Those tracks can be found across the country.

His family serves as his pit crew when he’s racing. His father works as his mechanic while his mother keeps track of lap times. And his sister takes care of the tires and can be seen on the video changing out a tire on her brother’s race car.

“She does a lot of stuff,” Pierce said.

Regardless of how he finishes in the Champion contest, Pierce knows what his future holds.

“Whatever I’m doing, I know it will consist of some sort of racing,” he said. “I want to race on asphalt (tracks). I’ve always wanted to give it a try, but we’ll need to get some help, and then we’ll see where I go.”

To vote

Visit the Champion Spark Plug contest website — — and look for Bobby Pierce’s video. Log in to vote. Voting ends on Feb. 3