Chad Hackenbracht had his best ever career finish in this past weekend’s ARCA race, scoring a fourth place in his family-owned No. 58 Tastee Apple CGH Motorsports Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway.
[media-credit name=”Photo Credit: CGH Motorsports” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]But even greater than the challenge of the intense competition on the track is the 19 year old driver’s challenge in just getting folks to pronounce his last name correctly.
In addition to being on a quest for name recognition, the driver is having a little fun with it all. His team has just developed T-shirts, which say “What’s a Chad Hacken-something?”
The correct pronunciation of that all important last name is in parentheses (hock en bra) on the new T-shirts, which are on sale on Hackenbracht’s website www.cghmotorsports.com for just $19.95.
“That actually was started by my marketing guy who is looking for sponsorship for us,” Hackenbracht said of the T-shirt venture. “It has turned into a really big hit.”
Hackenbracht, however, is focused solely on his racing and was thrilled with his good performance at Michigan.
“We wound up getting a fourth place out of it which wasn’t too bad,” Hackenbracht said. “We were up there in contention.”
“It’s a career best for us,” Hackenbracht said. “It was really good.”
The young driver from New Philadelphia, Ohio has been on a tear even before the career best finish in Michigan. He scored an 11th place finish at Toledo in May, a ninth-place finish at New Jersey and seventh place finish at Pocono Raceway.
This is Hackenbracht’s first full year in the ARCA Series, after running a limited schedule in 2010, with just the televised races on the docket. Prior to that, the young driver ran the Legends series, scoring 18 wins and the national championship.
Hackenbracht is a bit unusual as far as his driving pedigree. He is not from a traditional racing family, but instead caught the racing bug by seeing it on television.
“I basically was watching the Daytona or Talladega Cup race and I saw it and said to my parents, ‘Hey, I want to race.’ Hackenbracht said. “I don’t think they took me seriously but they said to come up with different options.”
“I came up with four-wheelers and go karts and my mom said no to both of them,” Hackenbracht continued. “So, then we saw quarter-midgets and started with that.”
The young driver has been moving on up the ranks ever since, with his eye eventually on a Truck or Nationwide ride. Like so many others, Hackenbracht definitely sees himself in the Cup Series sometime in the near future, with just the economy standing in his way.
“I’m in the perfect age range,” Hackenbracht said. “But just the wrong economic time.”
“In a couple years, you’ll have a lot of rides opening up,” Hackenbracht continued. “But you’ve got to survive until then.”
Hackenbracht survives with a little help from his friends, particularly those in the Cup garage, as well as good friend and mentor Ron Hornaday, Jr.
“ARCA is kind of like a big family,” Hackenbracht said. “All the teams work with you.”
“I’ve got a connection with Ron Hornaday in the Truck garage,” Hackenbracht continued. “He’ll stop in the shop after a race and we’ll talk a little bit.”
Hackenbracht does follow one particular Cup driver, one in fact that he has inherited from his mother.
“My mom’s driver is Jeff Gordon,” Hackenbracht said. “I follow him just because of my mom and dad.”
“But I really like Mark Martin myself,” Hackenbracht continued. “He races hard but he races clean. That’s what I do and what I want to be.”
In addition to the racers that Hackenbracht follows on the track, he also models himself after the premiere drivers in the sport as far as putting time in at the shop and at the gym. But he does have one other duty that has led to yet another name for the young driver.
“The guys at the shop call me ‘Sticker Boy’ because I put all the details on the car,” Hackenbracht said. “That’s kind of my thing.”
Whether you call him ‘Hacken-something’ or ‘Sticker Boy’, Hackenbracht will next be doing his thing in the ARCA Racing Series on Saturday, June 25th in the Winchester ARCA 200 presented by Federated Auto Parts at Winchester Speedway in Indiana.
“We came to Michigan and showed our performance was no fluke,” Hackenbracht said. “I’m anxious to get to Winchester as I feel we have a shot at our first career win.”