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Jon Price drove his first semi around the yard of his dad's trucking firm when he was 11 years old. Now he's behind the wheel of a more sporty and faster model, specifically those on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Price, a 27-year old from Colden, will drive at least three races for the Rick Ware Racing Team, based in Thomasville, N.C., this season. Ware also fields a truck full-time for driver Nathan Buttke.

"I remember driving those trucks and cars around the truck yard," Price said. "I loved to drive anything. Nobody left their keys in the ignition while I was around. I always went out to the track when I was young to watch my dad race."

Now time has fast-forwarded to 2001 and Price hopes to gain national driving status.

"I had a potential sponsor that was interested in sponsoring a big ride in a big series," Price said. "That's what led me to look on the Internet and make phone calls. I made about 150 calls to teams who might have been looking for drivers. I called Rick last November and I was testing for him a couple of days later in Darlington (S.C.)

"It's a tough track and I think they thought before the test session they had made a big mistake. They really had no idea who I was. So I went out and ran some laps. They were impressed and decided that they could work with me. Then we tested in December at Las Vegas and I was in the Top 10 in lap times from the 20 trucks there."

Price was scheduled to audition at Talladega, Ala., in January but the trip was scratched due to engine problems with the team. Price contacted a marketing company to assist him with further possibilities but Ware eventually came through with a contract.

Ware has set a schedule with Price to debut in Bakersfield, Calif., on March 17; followed by Loudon, N.H., July 21 and South Boston, Va., Sept. 28.

"Rick feels I will be able to do well and he looks to work me into a full-time ride but it all depends on sponsorship. Everything is coming right out of Rick's pockets right now, but we'd like to get at least enough sponsorship to run 10 to 20 races."

Price has another test late this week set for the Carroway, N.C., Speedway.

Price is a second-generation stock car racer, the son of retired Holland Speedway NASCAR driver Tom Price. The younger Price began his driving career at Holland in the NASCAR Challenger class in 1990.

He won 10 features in his sophomore season and placed second in points. Price was forced to the sidelines in 1992 due to a Holland rule that at the time stated that any driver who finished in the top three in Challenger points in a season had to move up to a higher division or sit out the next season. The rule was intended to prohibit drivers from dominating in successive seasons in what was designed to be an entry-level class of racing.

Price returned to the Challengers in 1993 and won nine features and the division championship. After taking his customary one year off in 1994 he came back to the Challenger class again in 1995 and claimed his second career Challenger crown after collecting feature triumphs.

Price switched to the MBNA Cup Lite Racing Series in 1999 and captured three wins and the series title. He also was victorious in the Bob Bender Memorial 100 at Holland, the most prestigious event on the MBNA trail. Now he will join Ransomville native Chuck Hossfeld as the two local competitors in the Craftsman series. Hossfeld drives full time for Jack Roush.

Pit stops

The Southern Tier Off Road Motorsports Series (STORM) will hold a drivers meeting Mar. 4 at noon at the Holland Willows on Savage Road off of Route 16 in Holland.< The Karl Hehr Racing Team will hold a fund raiser March 4 from 1-6 p.m. at the Eagles Club, 4569 Broadway near Borden Road. Tickets are priced at $10.

Gasport Speedway stock car drivers are attempting to raise much of their own point fund money this year, through a series of fund raisers scheduled for May 24, Aug. 1 and Labor Day weekend. Racers Point Money (RPM) is comprised of a group of drivers who will sell tickets in an attempt to raise $40,000 in point fund money.

NHRA Nitro Funny Car stars Cruz Pedregon and Dale Creasy will contest for victory in competition during NHRA Nitro Funny Car Match Race Night June 8 at Lancaster Motorsports Park. LMP will also host a Fan Appreciation Open House June 30 with a concert featuring Buffalo Trax, race car rides, kids activities, driver autograph sessions and a complete stock car race program. The program begins at noon with tickets ($5) covering all events.

Ransomville Speedway is constructing a new press box and sponsor suites that are expected to be completed by the opening of the season May 4.

The Olean Center Mall will host a stock car show March 2-4 with various forms of motorsports competition vehicles on display.

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