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Local racer honored with Rookie of the Year award

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sikeston native Hunter Schuerenberg was named Rookie of the Year in 2006.
SIKESTON -- For Sikeston's Hunter Schuerenberg, racing has been a part of his life for, well, most of his life.

The 17-year-old Sikeston High School junior has been racing since he was 6-

years-old at the SEMO Raceway, and he hasn't slowed down since.

His time on the track has been one filled with checkered flags. His success was recognized recently when he received the Rookie of the Year title for 2006 from the North American Non-Winged Sprint Car Poll voting panel.

The poll is an annual awards program of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum Foundation, Inc., of Knoxville, Iowa. All awards will be distributed in the spring of 2007 at tracks throughout North America.

The announcement was made on Dec. 13 at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.

Schuerenberg, who has raced winged cars the past two years, said his first season in non-winged cars didn't start out so well.

"(Rookie of the Year) is something I didn't really expect to get my first year in the non-wing car," said Schuerenberg. "It was a big jump to go to the non-

wing car from the wing car. The first part of the season this year it was tough and we weren't really going the way I thought we should've been. So if you would've told me I would've won this award the first 20 races of the season, I would've told you 'that's crazy.'"

Over time, though, Schuerenberg became more familiar with the non-winged car and started moving up in places in each race.

"It was just one of those deals where it took time," said Schuerenberg. "We struggled at first and we weren't used to it, but we worked at it and kept working at it until we got the car figured out. It was something we weren't familiar with."

Winged cars use the wing to help control the car. The wing acts as a down-

force on the track, keeping the car planted firmly to the track, thus making it easier to control.

When the wings are taken off, the down-force is taken away, making the car harder to control.

Schuerenberg did most of his racing in the Indianapolis area. He commuted at least 300 miles one way each week to run two and sometimes three nights a week. He eventually picked up his first feature win in his first visit to Lawrenceburg, Ind.

He got his second victory in August with a win at Bloomington, Ind., in which he led every lap.

Schuerenberg said his ultimate goal is to one day be competing on the NASCAR circuit against the likes of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

He said he recently signed a deal with a management company in Charlotte, N.C.

"I would like to try to get a development deal with NASCAR and maybe in three or four years be racing in a cup series," said Schuerenberg. "All the bigger NASCAR teams are picking up drivers in the non-winged circuit. Basically what they do is they pick young drivers at a young age and take the top one percent out of all the drivers in the nation and sign them."

But for now, Schuerenberg will set his sights on capturing a United States Auto Club (USAC) championship.

"I think that's very possible -- maybe possible this year," he said. "We're going to be with a really good team that's guaranteeing me a lot of races."

Schuerenberg's plans for 2007 will be a full-time ride with the Truckers 24-

Hour Road Service sponsored team based out of Indianapolis. The team will run the complete USAC National Dirt Sprint Car Series plus other select races beginning at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 29.

In addition to his numerous sponsors, Schuerenberg, a devout Christian, also credits his success to his Lord and Savior.

"One of my big things I like to say is I think I owe everything I've accomplished to God," said Schuerenberg. "He is a very big instrumental role in my racing career and I just want to give all the accomplishments and fame to Him. It's all because of Him."