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WNY Auto Racing / By Larry Ott: First season of racing hooks Mandie Orr

When Mandie Orr is not busy burning up the dance floor or singing her heart out with her band, the Buffalo resident can be found behind the wheel of a stock car on Saturday nights at Holland Motorsports Complex.

Holland management started the Future Fours class this season that is geared for first-time drivers like Orr.

Steeped in a solid family racing background, Orr has been progressing as the season at Holland has unfolded and now looks to use the experience she’s gained to move up to the Hornet class in 2015.

“I’ve learned a lot, that’s for sure,” said Orr, 26. “I had never driven a stick shift car in my life, and I had to learn to drive one just two weeks before Holland’s season opener this year. I’m still learning, and I have a mis-shift once in a while, but I understand more now about what to do.”

Along with her parents, father Craig and mom Diana, the younger Orr has relied on good friend and Hornet division driver Ashley Kirchberger for help.

“Ashley has been my mentor, and she also uses my Future Fours car in the Hornet class this season,” said Mandie.

“My mom is actually my crew chief and not my dad, although he works on the car. It’s a bit different when I come into the pits and ask my mom what to do, but my dad gets his input in, too.”

Understandably Mandie, a rookie driver, sometimes has a big case of nerves just before it’s time to hit the track.

“When I first started I was scared and nervous, especially when someone was passing me but I’m better now,” said Mandie. “Just before I get into the car to race I have a nervous habit of either not saying anything at all or I babble too much as a reaction to try to get calm. I am calmer in the car now.”

If any driver competes in more than five races in a single season in the new all-rookie, four cylinder Future Fours class, then by Holland track rule they must move up to another division the following year, usually the four-cylinder Hornet class. With more than five appearances already in the books in 2014, Orr will be moving up next season.

“I now love driving in the races and I will look to keep improving because I’m going to the Hornets next year,” said Mandie.

“I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the season how I would like race car driving, but I’ve ended up loving it.”

When not behind the wheel Mandie can often be found at either Miranda’s Dance Academy or flexing her vocal chords in the soul rock and blues band, “Urban Renewal.”

Craig Orr, who is a past championship driver, likes what he sees thus far in his daughter’s brief driving career.

“Mandie watched me race for a lot of years and last year she came to me and said that she wanted to try race driving,” said Craig Orr. “The Future Fours is a perfect way to get started. I’m proud of the progress she has made. She’s having a lot of fun. She’s gotten to the point where she can’t wait to get to the races on Saturdays.”

Craig Orr is an accomplished driver whose career credentials include claiming the Ransomville-Lancaster Enduro Series championship in 1994 as well as the Holland Enduro title in 1996. He also was Holland’s 1998 NASCAR Charger champion and Wyoming County’s 2001 Street Stock high point man. He won the U.S. Open Super Stock race at Lancaster in 2003. He is not actively driving now but along with his wife keep active in Mandie’s career.

Pit Stops

• In a last minute schedule change, Little Valley Speedway, which was originally set to run its five division stock car program Saturday, has switched the event to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Nearby Stateline Speedway attempted to run the Julian Buesink Memorial for the Super Late Models last Saturday but after qualifying was completed, the event was rained out and was postponed to this Saturday evening.

With 26 drivers qualified for the Buesink race, very few Super Late Model cars would have been available to come to Little Valley this Saturday. So as to not conflict and to ensure as many cars as possible for the fans, Little Valley management made the switch to this Sunday.

The Little Valley race program will consist of the Super Late Models, 360 Late Models, Crate Late Models, E-Mods and Street Stocks.

• Holland Motorsports Complex general manager Tim Bennett announced this week that following the repaving of the infield Figure-8 course, which took place several weeks ago, the new infield surface will now also house a small Go-Kart track and in a few weeks Go-Kart racing will begin.

Bennett has teamed up with the Barber family, operators of Bliss Speedway, to assist him with launching his Go-Kart program.

Various other local speedways, such as Ransomville and Merrittville, have been running Go-Kart programs for years and they have proven to be a good way to attract and develop younger kids, who later on have graduated to those track’s stock car programs. This model can also work at Holland.

email: lawrence_o_14075@yahoo.com