Sunday, November 23, 2014

Q&A with Lincoln Speedway 410 Rookie of the Year Austin Hogue

This week I had the pleasure of talking with the 2014 Lincoln Speedway 410 Rookie of the Year Austin Hogue. We talked about his racing career which started on asphalt, and moved to a very successful 3 seasons in the 358 division, where in 2013 he was crowned the Central PA 358 Point Series presented by Capitol Renegade Champion. This season he jumped to the 410 division and won a race at Lincoln as well as had a few 2nd place finishes along the way. Here you can read what Austin though was his best victory ever (Your going to be surprised on this one) and how his family decided to go from asphalt to of all tracks Trail Way Speedway.

Central PA Racing Scene - How did you get your start in racing?

Austin Hogue - I got my start racing watching a relative of mine and now 305 driver Andrew Hake, race go-carts at Hunterstown speedway. My dad asked me if we wanted to give it a try, I said yes and the rest is history.

CPARS - How long did you race go Carts and how did youand your family make the decision to jump from them to the Allison Legacy division?

Austin -We raced go carts from 1999-2005 so 6 years, we decided to make the move after a few successful seasons in go-karts, we wanted to make a change to something new and the Allison Legacy looked like a fun challenge and a good place to learn how to drive asphalt cars.

CPARS - . What was it like racing asphalt down south?
Austin - I loved racing the Allison Legacy Series which were a ¾ scale stock car that toured around the south on a variety of old asphalt ovals and roudcourses. They were an extremely difficult car to drive fast and very difficult to win a race in. We were fortunate to be able to meet and race with a lot of great people and drivers, and learn a lot of things that have helped me even in the sprint cars.

CPARS - How much success did you have in the series?
Austin -Our first two years we went totally win less and struggled to learn the way to set up and drive. Towards the end of the second season we started making some progress. In our 3rd season we picked up our first win at the 3rd race of the season and after that we ended up with 8 wins and 10 poles out of the 22 races.

CPARS -  Why make the switch from asphalt to dirt sprint cars?
Austin - We made the switch to dirt after we took 2 years off from racing. We were totally burnt out from 3 years of traveling south each and every week. But after two years of spectating we had to try something new, and with my cousin Tim Berkheimer running 358’s at the time we decide to give it a try.

CPARS - Why Trail Way?
Austin - My dad decided that we were going to run Trail Way because he wanted me to be able to drive in traffic and feel comfortable in tight situations. I’m really glad that we made that decision because after running with 24 cars at Trail Way every other track feels like there is so much time to think. It was a great time and it definitely taught me a lot of things you just don’t get to experience at the bigger tracks.

CPARS -  How much different are the two worlds?
Austin - From a drivers perspective they are totally different. Both are very difficult but in different ways. Spint cars with wings are actually a very forgiving racecar in the way that you can get very outta shape and not spin out. They are very overpowered and have a lot of downforce with big wide tires. So all in all to get around the track with decent speed is not horribly difficult. With that said, by no means are sprint cars easy. They demand you to try different things to get around other cars, the dirty air is horrendous and forces you find different lines to make things happen. I love the ability to move around and try things on dirt that is just not possible on asphalt. Asphalt taught me how to run consistent laps and squeak out every little bit speed out of the car by using every inch of the track to your advantage. I appreciate the downforce and grip in a sprint car because you never had that on asphalt; if you went past the limit on asphalt it was very unforgiving.

CPARS- How hard was it to learn to drive sprint cars?
Austin - It was very difficult, I can remember my first race at Trail Way lining up 24th and thinking what did I get myself into. I couldn’t see a dang thing with all the mud in my face, I ran over the infield so many times it was ridiculous, the steering wheel slipped outta my hands and I about took out half the field. Once I finally got a lap to myself and a second to breath, a friggin red 45 car goes blasting in underneath me and McClelland whips around to the outside, Im like get me off this racetrack. The beginning weeks were definitely not pretty.

CPARS - You say the where not pretty yet you won your third time out in a 358 at Trail Way. What was going through your head as you raced under the checker flag that night?
Austin -All I could think was please no lapped traffic. I felt somewhat in control while I was out by myself in the lead but when I would run up on traffic I had no clue what to do. I was totally shocked coming out of turn 4 because I thought there was no way we picked up a win that early in the season. But it was a good confidence booster for us as a team.

CPARS -  Who helped you out the most starting out?

Austin - Hmmm…. Nobody, it’s the same guys we raced with in the Allison Legacy Series. I won’t lie, our team has a trust issue and likes to learn things by ourselves the hard way. Allan Crisamore is my crew chief and he is a genius, without him I don’t know what we would do. It’s a tough thing learning by yourself but nobody can take away the things you learned when you take the time to learn them yourself.

CPARS - Explain to everyone what the 2013 racing season felt like?

Austin - The 2013 season was a season where everything just clicked. Never did I ever expect to have the amount of success that we had in 2013, but I did know that once we found what we were looking for we were going to be a very difficult team to beat. I knew what I wanted out of the car and Allan was able to give us good cars all year. 

CPARS - You won at 2 different tracks on opening night and the tracks couldn't be farther apart. What was it like to win at both Williams Grove and Trail Way to start the season?

Austin - It was pretty awesome picking up both opening days, winning at Trail Way is just as exciting to me as my win at the grove they are both difficult to make it happen, it was great because it gave me the confidence I needed running the bigger tracks that I don’t have a ton of experience at.

CPARS - Central PA 358 Point Series Champion in your third season. Really?

Austin - Hahah yea, I was as shocked as anyone else, I knew we were capable but never thought it would come that fast. 

CPARS - You lead the point searies from April 20th to the end of the season. How much where you looking at the standings and letting it effect you if any, or was it just a case of 1 race at a time and let the points fall where they may?
Austin -I would be lying if I said that I paid no attention to it, but I tried not to as much as possible. I tried to just take it race by race, and I think I did well at not letting it get to me until the last couple races. All I wanted was to get enough of a lead that I could totally disregard the points and just race. I am a driver that has the tendency to stay a little conservative when points are on the line, just to get a solid points finish. So its nice to get a big lead and be able to get up on the wheel and not worry about points.

CPARS - You jumped into 410s this season. Why make the jump after such a successful season or was that planned?

Austin - I would love to say that it was planned and that it was because we won championship, but it was mostly a funding thing. It was nice to be able to leave the 358’s on a high note. But you never know how long the funding will last in this sport so we will ride the wave while it lasts.

CPARS -  Did you think you would stand in Victory Lane so fast?

Austin - No not at all, I figured Lincoln was our best chance and luckily we got one fairly early in the season. It really helps your confidence knowing you can compete with these guys. But mostly my goal for this season was to make laps, get experience and get a feel for the car. So getting a win was icing on the cake.

CPARS - How much different is your driving style in a 410 compared to the 358?

Austin - I don’t feel I have changed my driving style to terribly much. I have been forced to move around and use the cushion more than I did in 358’s, and the 410’s also make you drive a little more aggressive just to complete passes and move forward. But other than that they are very similar cars.

CPARS -You have an interesting hobby, you fly airplanes. Tell everyone what its like to go from racing a 410 sprint car to jumping in an airplane and fly around the area?

Austin - Haha I wish I could fly, I do have a few hours of flying time, but my brother is the pilot. I just tag along in the co-pilots seat and take pictures of racetracks. To be totally honest, flying kinda freaks me out a little bit.

15. Lightning round....
Favorite sport other then racing?
Austin - Ummm…. Nothing stick and ball, but I do like snowboarding
Favorite sports team?
Austin - None
Favorite music?
Austin - Country
Favorite band?
Austin - Zac Brown
Favorite TV show and why?
Austin - Big Bang, Sheldon Cooper is hilarious, and Penny ain’t to bad either.

Favorite movie and why?
Austin - Joe Dirt, I think I can recite every line because I think it was the only movie in our camper on the way to the races down south. I have seen it over 50 times.

Favorite race you have ever won in your career?
Austin - South Boston Speedway, Allison Legacy race, Hardest 50 laps I ever ran without crashing at a really awesome racetrack.

CPARS - Why does that race stand out more then others?
Austin -My win at South Boston stood out to me because I had a lot of my family down to watch and South Boston is such a historic old racetrack. During the race I had to work so hard to stay in the lead. I was more out of control for those 50 laps than any race I can remember. I was being dogged by a kid named Cody Smith. We raced hard the whole race and he was probably faster but we were able to keep him behind and take the win.

Favorite 358 driver to race wheel to wheel with?
Austin - Pat Cannon, even though the wheel to wheel never really happened, he was the one to beat.

Favorite 410 driver to race wheel to wheel with?
Austin - Brian Montieth, he races hard and clean, nobody better at moving through the field at Lincoln.

Name 2 famous people you would like to have dinner with, 1 living and 1 dead, and tell us what you would ask them?
Austin - Carrie Underwood, I’d ask her to marry me. As far as a dead guy, I’m just not sure.

Last question...

Your family runs BAPS Paint Supply yet your first season in the 358 division you had this just plain ugly green sprint car. What was your family thinking with that paint job? LOL

Austin - Hahha That was pretty much the most hideous thing ever. It was some deal we were trying to promote a new style of paint that the body shops have to use. But I don’t think we helped out our cause. lol 

I want to thank Austin for taking the time to sit down and chat with me this week. Austin and his family are some of the nicest people you would ever meet in the pit area. With drivers like Austin racing in Central PA the feature of 410 racing in Central PA looks very bright for years to come.