Wednesday, July 04 2012 @ 12:32 PM EDT
Canadian Native Owns Only Multi-Car Team In CARS Pro Cup Series
Mooresville, N.C. – Anyone that knows CARS Pro Cup Series team owner Wes Gonder knows he loves what he does.
You might find him working under the hood of one of his race cars, beating on sheet metal or coaching one of his drivers. No matter where you find him however, it’s clear that he is simply happy to be there.
“I got started racing in Ontario, Canada, at a short-track called Barrie Speedway helping (work on) late models,” Gonder said. “I never ever did drive them, I always worked on them. I never had the desire to drive them, always just wanted to work on them.”
So the obvious question is how did Gonder make his way from the province of Ontario all the way to North Carolina? He gave all the credit to the CARS Pro Cup Series, then known as the Hooters Pro Cup Series.
“The Hooters Pro Cup, back then, had northern races in Canada Cayuga (International Speedway) and I met some Hooters Pro Cup guys there,” Gonder said. “I asked them what they did full time. At that time I was only part-time doing late-model stuff after work. They said that (working in Hooters Pro Cup) was their full-time job.
“I asked how I got involved in something like that,” Gonder said.
So, like so many before him, Gonder packed his things and moved to North Carolina to try and get more involved in the world of stock-car racing. He started in Pro Cup, eventually taking jobs in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Yet, something just didn’t feel right.
“I was in Nationwide for a while with an underfunded team and it got pretty monotonous trying to go for top 25s,” Gonder recalled. “I got frustrated with it and I decided I was going to start my own team. People thought I was crazy, but here I am back in the Pro Cup Series, the series that got me here in the first place.”
So what about the CARS Pro Cup Series appeals to Gonder so much? For one, says Gonder, the series is much more competitive and cost efficient than other stock-car series.
“Everybody is a contender in the Pro Cup Series,” Gonder said. “In Nationwide and Trucks and even in ARCA, if you don’t have the multi-million dollars then you can’t compete. Everybody can compete in the Pro Cup Series.
“If you knock a fender off a Nationwide car, you’ve got to metal fabricate everything and spend hours in the body shop before you can even get back to assembly. With a composite body (like the ones used in the CARS Pro Cup Series), you knock a fender off you can just put it back on,” Gonder said.
Wes Gonder Racing, which fields the Nos. 33 and 36 Chevrolets in Pro Cup competition, specializes in driver development. The team has raced with several talented drivers in the last two years, including Cale Conley, Tanner Berryhill, Harrison Rhodes, Trey Mitchell, Scott Saunders and Blake Jones.
“A big goal for our team is developing drivers,” Gonder said. “Some of them have already been doing that that has raced with our team. We’ve had some good talent come through.”
Gonder has several long-term and short-term goals for his squad. His short-term goal is to keep his two full-time cars as high up in the CARS Pro Cup owner standings as possible. In the long-term, he’d like to add a third car to his operation so long as he can find the sponsorship dollars.
“I’ve got plenty of drivers (for the third card) that I can pick from,” Gonder said. “I’ve got good talent; I’ve just got to find some backing and some good equipment. I could really use some financial backing from some potential sponsors.
“I think if we got a little bit more help from a sponsor, we could put it into getting some more equipment. I might have to do what I did when I started this team, which is go ahead and do it, run good, get results and the rest will look after itself,” Gonder added. “The results speak for themselves.”
The next CARS Pro Cup Series race is scheduled for July 14 at South Carolina’s Dillon Motor Speedway. Tickets can be purchased for $12 online at www.carsprocup.com through July 12 or for $15 at the track on the day of the event.