Mar 4, 2020 05:10 AM EDT
Driver Profile: GLEN WHRITENOUR IS STILL TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AS HE ENTERS HIS 27TH SEASON
Exclusive story by Kenny Shupp Jr.
Located in the rolling hills of the Upstate New York in the predominately agricultural and Amish community of Jasper, NY lives one of the top full fender drivers in the northeast quadrant of the United States.
Glen Whritenour started his career racing in the Amateur Division at nearby Woodhull Raceway just four miles from his home right along the NY/Pa border in the early 1990’s and for over a quarter century he has not strayed very far from his roots particularly when it comes to wheeling a sleek full fender machine.
“My dad had an Amateur car that my brother drove at Woodhull and one night they gave me a chance to take it out. Things didn’t go very well as I broke the rear end on the very first lap when I over drove the car going into turn one. I figured my dad was going to be really upset with me, but he just more or less told me not to worry about it. The next year in 1994 we built another Amateur machine and ran full time at Woodhull. We didn’t win even as much as a heat race, but we learned a lot. We took the next couple of years off, came back full time in 1997 with a Street Stock and we haven’t looked back since.”
After picking up a few qualifying heat wins in 1997 the feature wins soon followed along with his first Street Stock Track Championship at the Woodhull Raceway in 2000.
“That championship in 2000 really gave the team a huge boost so we decided to move up a class and give the Super Stock Division a try. We were competitive in the Super Stocks every year we raced in the class, but it wasn’t until 2006 that we won the track title at Woodhull.”
It was about that same time that the 360 Late Model class was starting to take shape, so it was natural for Whritenour to make the lateral move.
The 360 Late Models were about the same thing as the Super Stocks, but the popularity of the class exploded when the late Gary Montgomery formed the BRP Can Am 360 Late Model Touring Division which allowed drivers like Glen Whritenour the opportunity to take their talents onto the road and compete against some of the other top pilots stretching from the Southern Tier of NY all the way to Western NY, north to the Niagara Frontier and even numerous trips into Ontario, Canada.
“Gary Montgomery really gave a lot of us drivers the opportunity to travel under a standardized set of rules. We had a chance to race at tracks other than our regular Friday and Saturday night venues, stated Whritenour. It only made us better racers and it gave drivers a lot of creditability when they could travel to strange tracks and win.”
It was during that time that Whritenour and his team went on a rampage winning 360 Late Model Track Championships at the Woodhull Raceway from 2008 thru 2011. After losing the title to John Waters at Woodhull in 2012, GW rebounded with three more consecutive Woodhull 360 LM Titles in 2013, 14 and 15. Mind you it was during that period when the 360 Late Models were one of the premier divisions in the northeast with such top drivers as Bruce Miller, Jeremy, Mike, Mikey and Brady Wonderling, Wayne Robertson, Bryce Davis, Jason and Brian Knowles and the before mentioned John Waters all seeing race action. It was truly a tough crowd of competitors.
However, it was also during the latter part of 2014 and 2015 that the Crate Late Model Division was starting to gain momentum in the region with one driver after another jumping ship from the 360 Late Models into what was touted as the new and more affordable Crate Late Model Division racing on a spec engine, tires and shock absorbers.
“Those things never interested me exclaimed Whritenour. I did a lot of research on the Crate Late Models as I didn’t want to make a knee jerk reaction and get myself into something that I wasn’t going to be comfortable racing. I decided to go back to the Street Stock Class in 2016 where I continued to enjoy a great working relationship with Joel Smith at Close Racing Supply in Eldred, Pa. I had been involved with CRS since the BRP days dating back to 2006 and I race their chassis exclusively with a lot of success. I give a lot of feedback to Joel and it helps all the other teams racing the CRS Chassis.”
After stepping back into a Street Stock in “16”, GW was shut out of a track title but, it was in 2017 he decided to venture away from Woodhull and race the entire season at the Outlaw Speedway in Dundee, NY. Not only did he run his potent #15 Street Stock at Outlaw, but he also incorporated an IMCA Modified into his fleet as the Yates County Speed Plant also ran the Nationally Sanctioned IMCA Modified Division on a weekly basis.
“I had never raced an open wheel car in my life. It’s always been full fender stuff for me! But I wanted to give it a try and as it turned out we not only won the Street Stock Track Championship at Outlaw, but we also won the IMCA Modified Title as well.”
With this extraordinarily feat of winning two titles in two different classes in the same year at the same venue GW sold the IMCA Modified and decided to just focus on the Street Stocks where he had dominated.
“The IMCA Modified certainly was different. I was thrilled that we won the title and it was a lot of extra work for the team. But the car never felt comfortable to drive as the suspension on them is a lot different than the Street Stock. Quite honestly it beat the heck out of my body. The Street Stock is just a lot more comfortable to drive so I’m content to stick with that.”
Whritenour was able to successfully defend his 2017 Track Title at Outlaw Speedway with another title in 2018 bring his Track Championship total to an even dozen.
“I really like racing at Outlaw. Tyler Siri who owns the track treats us racers well. We run for a lot of money at that place and I like the configuration and speed of the track”
2019 found GW again racing exclusively at Outlaw, but he came up just a bit short in the final point tally finishing in the runner up spot to upcoming young gun, Dylan Cecce. Whritenour and Cecce completely dominated the class at Outlaw winning all but two of the feature events during the 2019 season.
But don’t feel too sympathetic for the 43-year-old Whritenour as even though we came up short in the championship chase in “19” he perhaps had one of his best overall years during his illustrious career.
“We won all three 100 lap Street Stock Special Events that we competed in this past year, stated Whritenour. At Outlaw we won the held over Dutch Hoag Empire 100 which was run in April. We also won the Annual 100 lap Street Stock Event at Woodhull in September and be came right back at Outlaw and won the season finale Dutch Hoag Empire 100 in late October.”
GW also picked up a huge $1500 Street Stock Special win at the Clinton County Speedway near Jersey Shore, Pa as well as a 40 lap, $1,000 to win special at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Central New York.
“That win at Thunder Mountain has so much meaning to me and the team. When I went out on the track for the feature in pushed the brake pedal and it went right to the floor. I figured we were all done as I was starting 11th on the grid. I was somehow able to muster up enough brakes and by lap eight I was in the lead. From there I used the ignition switch to slow the car down as the brakes were totally gone. I would flip the switch off and let the engine compression slow the car down. Then I would flip it back on to get back on the gas. That win was pretty special!”
He is also very quick to point out that the 2008 season in his 360 Late Model was perhaps his best overall year. Having won the Woodhull Track Title that year he was also in contention to win the BRP CanAm 360 Title where he came up a bit short. He did however pick up a late season $2500 BRP Special at the Weedsport Speedway bringing his “08” feature win total to 12. The same feature win total as 2019. “The win at Weedsport was pretty special as it was an event tied in with Super Dirt Week. There was a top-notch field of competitors and the place was packed with spectators.”
Whritenour can credit his longstanding pit crew for much of his success. “Most of my guys and gals have been with me for decades. They are loyal, dependable, they work well together, and they know me well enough that they can make the necessary adjustments on the car when it needs messaging. Jeremy Jensen, Jeremy Cerrillo, Calvin Barber, Theresa Turner, Samantha Bassett, Ann Stiles and my dad, Mike have been with me a long, long time. My father since day one and all the rest since about 2001. That’s a lot of years of experience. Now I’ve got my 7-year-old son, Andrew nicknamed, Drew helping on the car. That’s pretty cool having him on board.”
Joel Smith of Close Racing Supply is still the man that GW works with in conjunction when fine tuning the design of the potent CRS Chassis and former Street Stock competitor, Tony Foth builds the powerful and dependable 355 cubic inch Chevrolet that fits snuggly between the rails.
One area that GW takes great pride in is his ability to acquire quality sponsors. “We have been able to maintain a great group of marketing partners he exclaimed. Winning a lot certainly helps, but you still must take care of the sponsors. By showing them that we aren’t just here to take the money and run it makes the partners really feel like they are a part of the operation. Most of them are locals so they get to the tracks to watch us in competition. We always make sure the car looks good and is kept clean. We try our best to run a professional operation and the partners really appreciate that fact.”
Light Speed heads up a long list of quality sponsors in addition to Close Racing Supply, Swarthout Recycling, Penn York Tax, Mooses Enterprises and long-time friends, Joe and Jean Willcox of Joe Willcox Performance Automatics. Other partners include Smokin’ Wead Bar B Q, Shear Perfection and Motorsports Junction.
When touring the Whritenour home and race shop the walls are lined with feature winning plaques and trophies and still at a pretty young age of 43 and currently with 212 feature wins, there is still plenty of time for GW to add even more to the collection.
When asked if he ever desired to make the move into the Sportsman or Modified Division Whritenour is quick to exclaim, “I don’t care for a center steer car. I drove Terry Brewer’s Modified one time several years ago and those things don’t fit me well at all. I’ll stick to my full fender cars where I can stretch my legs out, he stated laughingly.”
He did however state that if he were to drive anything else before he calls it a career it would most definitely be a full blown Super Late Model.
“I would like to try a Super Late Model, but economically it just isn’t in the cards right now, but you never know if the right opportunity were to come along, I might give it a try.
It should also be noted that Glen Whritenour is one of the most respected drivers in any division that he competes. Having watched him compete and win for decades very seldom does he show any muscle or use the chrome horn on any fellow racers.
“I learned a long time ago that I want to race other guys like I want them to race me. If you show respect for the other guys, they will in turn respect you back. That’s how I drive, and the other racers know that I’m going to race them clean.”
In addition to spending time working on his own equipment, Whritenour is spending more and more time working on cars of his fellow competitors. It is not uncommon to find GW working long hours in the shop hanging new body panels or changing the suspension components on the chassis of his fellow racers.
“I’ve built up quite a large clientele over the past few years, stated Whritenour. A lot of teams come to me with questions on chassis geometry or they want me to update their cars or put on new bodies. Currently I have Mike Welch’s Street Stock in here that he runs at Canandaigua doing some updates and when that’s done, I’ve got a bunch of Hobby Stocks coming in for new bodies. It’s something I enjoy dong and it helps fund my own racing operation.”
2020 plans for another all-out assault on the Street Stock title at Outlaw Speedway on Friday nights and tentative plans call for a return to nearby Woodhull Raceway.
“It looks like there will be new ownership at Woodhull next season and there is talk of getting the Street Stocks rules more in alignment with what Outlaw Speedway is doing. It isn’t like the two are ions apart, but there are few things and if they get worked out, we will run both tracks.”
“When I started racing in 1993 my favorite driver was Kenny Peoples Sr. He pretty much ruled Woodhull for a long time in the Super Stocks and I was glad to be able to race against him before he retired. My first cars were even numbered 5X. Kenny ran number 5 or 5K for decades. Eventually we switched to the number 15 which we still use to this day.”
In closing and on a personal note it has been a privilege to have known Glen for most of his racing career. I have had the opportunity to interview him numerous times in victory lane and at racetrack banquets. I have watched him win races from the front row and from twenty fourth and in almost every single instance he has conducted himself as a true professional. From his driving style to the appearance of his car, hauler, trailer and race team. Glen Whritenour is one of the good guys in our sport and is someone that young racers can and should look up to.
In addition, it is impressive as to how GW has not tried to exceed his means or comfort zone. Far too many times racers try and climb the racing ladder only to find themselves moving up in class and suddenly are no longer competitive. Weather it’s a money thing, not being comfortable in their surroundings or perhaps moving too quickly up the food chain, Glen Whritenour has avoided taking any chances on moving into a class that he either has no interest in or just doesn’t feel comfortable competing in. A lesson that every young racer should learn!