FUZI: Pitside Chatter
GAYLORD, Mich. — Some individuals wonder for years what career path they should take, others know from the time they first taste dirt on their lips from the grandstands on a summer weekend what their life’s passion will be.
Tracy Hines is among the latter. Growing up in the Hines household meant auto racing was a natural part of everyday life. Tracy’s grandfather and father were both heavily involved in the sport as sprint car owners. Tracy made his first laps in a quarter midget at the age of 5.
Hines has a natural talent behind the wheel that is undeniable; over the past three decades Hines has effortless maneuvered his way to numerous wins in all three of USAC’s elite divisions.
Although Hines has two USAC titles (Silver Crown in 2000 and sprint car in 2002) and a number of top-three championship runs to his credit, he has never been one to allow himself to get categorized and be put in a box, so in 2003 Hines took a hiatus from open-wheel competition and landed a ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He captured three top-10 finishes, including two top fives in 53 starts and placed 18th in the standings in his first full season of competition (2004). Hines also made 17 NASCAR Nationwide starts between 2004 and 2006, placing as high as 13th.
Despite enjoying success in the stock car ranks, Hines found his passion truly lied within the open-wheel ranks and in 2007 he returned to his USAC roots with Tony Stewart Racing.
Hines has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind and when it comes to the sport he loves its no holds barred for the New Castle, Ind., native.
“USAC is the still the premier sanction for open wheeled non-winged racing, but there have been some struggles,” exclaimed Hines. “I am not afraid to admit that I am disappointed with the car counts and amount of competition in the Silver Crown series and although some other drivers won’t admit it aloud, we all feel the same way.”
For Hines, seeing lower car counts, especially at historical speedways is a hard pill to swallow. Tracy is not just another USAC competitor, he is one of the winningest and most dedicated drivers under the United States Auto Club banner with more than 1,000 USAC starts and 86 victories to his credit (nine Silver Crown, 46 sprint car and 34 midget). Hines is committed to seeing the sport flourish into the future.
“Some of my best memories are just racing with some of the car owners that I have had over the years and the relationships that I built with those owners,” proclaimed Hines. “Those are long lasting memories there, and in the next 4 to 5 years if there are still sponsors to be chased and still a sport to be had I want to transfer over into being an owner and grooming the next kids.”