JOHN CURTIS Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Neoga High School senior Spencer Montgomery is at the starting line, waiting for the green flag in the ARCA series, just one step away from his dream, NASCAR.
With eight years racing experience already under his belt, Montgomery went to Gateway International Raceway and passed the driving test be licensed for ARCA and plans to start racing the ARCA Series this spring.
"I rounded up the money to go test ($2000)," Montgomery said."
Montgomery was taking his test while other drivers were on the track enjoying the Rust Wallace Driving Experience. Montgomery ran four sessions and 75 laps total. He used cars that were driven by Keselowski and Carl Edwards.
"One session had just two cars on the track," Montgomery said. "There was another driver from New Jersey in his early 20's. The other sessions there were up to 120 cars on the track. We reached speeds up to 130 miles per hour."
Montgomery started driving Jr. Sprints when he was 10 years old and became the Jr. Sprint National Champion. When he was 13, he jumped to the 600 Outlaw Micro Sprints and ran the POWRi Series, finishing in the Top 10 the last two years. As an 18 year-old, Montgomery is now in ARCA, one step away from his goal, NASCAR.
He has grown from driving the Jr. Sprints that are 100 cc and top out at about 85 miles per hour to the micro sprints that are 600 cc with 120 horsepower engines that go about 110 m.p.h. No he is driving an 800 horsepower 360 ci V8 engine that will go 200 m.p.h. The cars weigh 3400 pounds and run on unleaded 112 octane.
Montgomery has always had the driving ability. What all young drivers need is for somebody to give them a break, particularly sponsors.
Bob Milleville of Rochester, a former driver from Rochester and paraplegic veteran, is always looking for young drivers to sponsor. He chose Montgomery. He purchased four cars for Montgomery, one a former NASCAR ride that took Jamie McMurray to the Sprint Cup winners circle at Phoenix. That ride was also use for a Nationwide points championship by Joe Ruttman.
"Bob decided he wanted to be a car owner," Montgomery said. "He saw it was a good deal to get the cars."
The other cars are back-ups, including a roller that he plans to use on a short track in Toledo. NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse drove that car.
Montgomery plans to race 10 of the 15 ARCA races this coming season. ARCA races are from 100 to 250 miles long on paved, dirt, and road courses. He plans to start on May 19 at Toledo Speedway.
"I've never been to any of these tracks before, except DuQouin, " Montgomery said. "I'll be at DuQuoin again, racing during the DuQuoin State Fair. There is also an ARCA race at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield."
Montgomery has the experience and the credentials to drive ARCA. He's got a sponsor who provided cars. The rest of the recipe for a quicker trip to NASCAR is up to the sponsors he can gather.
"It all comes down to sponsors," Montgomery said. "If we get the sponsors we'd like to race out of Justin Allgaier's garage in Springfield and use his crew. Allgaier was a Nationwide champion and used to race Late Models at Macon Speedway."
Charlie Patterson, who takes young drivers under his wing, encouraged Montgomery to get an asphalt and then he could show him how to get to NASCAR in as few as two years.
"If I'm going to make it to NASCAR, I'm going to have to drive good," Montgomery said. "I'm going to have support of sponsors. With sponsor money, I can get to NASCAR in as little as two years. I can use ARCA as a stepping stone. Charlie told me, he could do that with sponsor money. He knows the right people."
Even ARCA races are not cheap. Toledo is just $30,000, while other races cost a racing team as much as $50,000.
"If I get the sponsor money, I'd like to go to Kenny Schrader's shop and have them take me out and teach me some things."
Montgomery's current sponsors are Bob Milleville, Sav-Mor Pharmacy, Ed Boarman Motors in Shelbyville and Bell Helmets.