An unfamiliar face stood on the podium at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) Saturday night after the completion of 150 laps for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models. A driver by the name of Riley Herbst finished second to race winner Ben Rowe, and that prompted a lot of people to ask, “Riley who?”
We at Speed51.com powered by JEGS asked ourselves the same question, so we decided to find out a little bit more about the driver who finished second in the Easter Bunny 150.
It turns out that Herbst came to the East Coast from the desert, literally. That’s right, the driver that finished second at a Super Late Model race in North Carolina hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. And the route he took to begin his Super Late Model career wasn’t exactly a traditional one.
“My family is an off-road family so I started doing off-road trucks at seven or eight,” Herbst told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Then I moved into Legends cars when I was about 10.”
After racing Legends cars for Chase Pistone, Herbst got together with the LFR Driver Development Group whom he will race a Super Late Model for on a part-time basis. He’s only running part-time because he’s also racing closer to home with Bill McAnally Racing full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
While Herbst is only 17, he said he’s known for quite a while that pavement racing is what he wanted to do, and he’s doing everything he can to make it work.
“I wanted to do something that we’ve never done before,” he said. “But I can always fall back on off-road racing if I have to. I just wanted to venture out and try asphalt racing.”
When trying to make it in the world of big time auto racing, a lot of travel is required. Long hours in the team vehicle is usually a given. But for Herbst, most of his visits to the East Coast require him to travel by air. Because of that, he’s racking up the frequent flier miles early on in his racing career.
But what helps Herbst a lot is that he is homeschooled. He doesn’t have to worry about missing too many days of school. He just has to make sure he gets his work done. If he doesn’t… well, he doesn’t know what will happen at that point, but he said he knows it won’t be good.
“I haven’t pushed that edge yet. I’ve just got to get it done,” he said. “My mom was just on me about that. I was down at Speedweeks and it’s wake up at seven and go to bed at ten for two weeks. I didn’t get much schoolwork done so my mom was a little bit upset at me.”
When Herbst is at the track, he said he has one goal he wants to accomplish. Yes, he’s racing for a championship in the K&N Pro Series West, but that isn’t his main goal. His main goal is to do more of what he did on Saturday night at Hickory, and that’s just finish strong.
“Our overall goal would be to contend for good finishes like we did this weekend at Hickory,” Herbst said. “And just to keep learning as much as I can and soaking up all the knowledge out there. I’ve got Jeff Fultz and Tony Eury Jr., and Rob Fuller and all these great guys around me.”
Herbst’s next chance to learn more will come at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee at the North/South Super Late Model Challenge for the ARCA/CRA Super Series and Southern Super Series on April 8 and 9.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman photo