In 2006 Sam Hornish Jr. won the biggest motor race in the United States of America. With a slingshot pass on the final straightaway, Hornish took the checkered flag in the Indianapolis 500.
Now 10 years later, Hornish’s niece, Hope, is looking to make a name for herself by winning some races of her own. But the cars she’ll be driving won’t be of the open-wheel variety like her uncle drove to three championships. They’ll instead have fenders, just like the NASCAR stock cars Sam Hornish most recently piloted.
19-year-old Hope Hornish is set to make her Pro Late Model debut at CRA SpeedFest in Cordele, Georgia at the D-shaped oval of Crisp Motorsports Park on January 31. Hornish is dreaming big, but keeping her goals realistic.
“First of all, I want to not wreck, of course,” Hornish told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “That’s my biggest one right now. I want to finish all 125 laps on the lead lap. Preferably I want to finish in the top 10 but if the top 15 works then that is perfectly fine.”
Hornish will be racing the full JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour campaign in her Pro Late Model, and will be working with former ARCA/CRA Super Series champion and Winchester 400 winner, Scott Hantz.
“That’s gone really well so far,” said Hornish. “I work at the shop with him so I’m getting hands-on learning. He’s teaching me stuff about the car. He’ll say ‘This does this,’ and I’ll ask ‘Well how does that affect that in that way?’”
She explained that not only has Hantz been teaching her, but he’s also been teaching her whole family how things work on Late Models and what to expect.
“My uncle came up through open-wheel so there’s been a learning curve for myself and the rest of my family,”
she said. “So Scott Hantz has been a real big help. He’s already tested all of these ideas and understands what things are going to do. But if we had to test all these things ourselves then it would just be a lot of extra time.”
Hornish has been racing almost all of her life. She’s been behind the wheel of Go-Karts since she was four years old, but her family made her wait until she was eight before she could start racing. She explained that she ran Go-Karts all her life until last year when she jumped behind the wheel of a Late Model Sportsman car and ran weekly at Indiana’s Angola Motorsport Speedway where she finished seventh in the division standings.
She said that there was a big learning curve for her in getting used to how the cars felt versus Go-Karts, but the biggest adjustment was the competition level. Now that she’s jumping to the competitive series of the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, that’s something that she’ll have to deal with once again.
“I’m excited for the stiffer competition,” said Hornish. “With more competition it’s harder. Now with things like SpeedFest there’s multiple places drivers come from like the Camping World Truck Series, and Kyle Busch is racing the Super Series. It actually adds excitement to my level because I have a chance to make a name for myself because of who I’m racing against.”
Race fans can watch Hope Hornish make her Pro Late Model debut live on Speed51 TV on Sunday, January 31. In addition to watching Hornish in the Pro Late Model 125, fans will also be able to watch the Super Late Model SpeedFest 200 featuring drivers such as John Hunter Nemechek, Ty Majeski, and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch.
To purchase the live pay-per-view broadcast of CRA SpeedFest from Crisp Motorsports Park, click here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Hope Hornish Facebook