Hunter Schuerenberg of Sikeston, Missouri teamed with Hank Byram’s Rock Steady Racing team to become one of the winningest combinations in AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing in 2011 and 2012. The duo clicked off six wins in that span and were contenders on a nightly basis.
After a consistent start to 2013 that saw them in the middle of a tight point race, the latter half of the year became a struggle that ended with the two parting ways and Schuerenberg piecing together a sparse schedule over the season’s final few months.
A busy offseason now has Schuerenberg ready to start strong this season, as he and long-time Silver Crown entrant Gene Nolen have combined forces, along with a multitude of other backers, to assemble a team that Schuerenberg hopes will get him back in the win column.
“It’s been a big deal for me to get somebody like Gene Nolen involved, someone that’s been in the sport for so long and knows so much about it. He’s a great guy who just loves to race. We’ve become good friends already and things have come together well. The things he brought to the equation were kind of the last things I needed to make everything happen. So many people have stepped up to help out. And not just help me, but Jake (Argo, crew chief) who stuck his neck out to get some things together, too,” Schuerenberg said of his fledgling operation.
The 24-year old tallied seven top-fives and 14 top-tens in 18 USAC races with Rock Steady during 2013, but his union with the #35 team ended after “Indiana Sprintweek” in July. From there, Schuerenberg raced for three other teams but endured three horrific crashes, including in USAC action at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa for the “Ultimate Challenge” and during Kokomo (IN) Speedway’s “Sprint Car Smackdown II.”
“The end of last year is the most frustrated I have ever been in racing, period. It’s a scary feeling to be at the point of seriously considering getting out. I’d had a string of bad luck, bad accidents, and just a really unfortunate couple months in racing. After having a DNF in a local show at Gas City, chaplain Dave Cochran came up to me in the infield and I was about as defeated as I could be. He told me to pray about it and see where that takes you,” Schuerenberg said.
From there, Schuerenberg decided that he wanted to take things into his own hands and find partners to build his own operation.
“I was at a low point there, but I knew I wanted to try to put something together of my own, and a guy named Mark Downey knew what I was going through and got the ball rolling with a little financial help. He is a fan, and it meant a lot to me that he would want to contribute to me staying around. That was pretty much the start of the snowball that has been building since then,” Schuerenberg said.
Schuerenberg leaned on many relationships harbored over a career that has now spanned eight seasons of dirt sprint car racing, both with USAC and locally. Schuerenberg began with his family’s team as a 16-year old in 2006, notching finishes of third in Wheatland, Missouri and a seventh at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio before getting his first hired ride in 2007. Seven USAC wins have accumulated since then (including his first, for Jeff Walker Racing in 2008).
“There’s so many good people in this sport. Guys like Roger Tapy, who gave me my first ride, and Ron Gorby, who has helped me for quite a few years now, and Gene Franckowiak, my engine guy for the last few years and someone who has become a great friend. There’s been people like that who don’t have a fortune but have worked hard for what they have, and that is kind of the attitude that’s become infectious and rubbed off on me,” Schuerenberg said.
Schuerenberg lists a myriad of supporters in his endeavor: Gene Nolen, Ron Gorby’s Howard Johnson, Gene Franckowiak, Mach-1 Chassis, Competition Suspension, AFCO, Rider Racing Engines, DMI, Roof Bolt Express, MPHG Promotions, Mark Downey, Smith Precision Products, Butlerbuilt, Wesco Trailers, BMRS, Performance Coating, Indy Race Parts, Keizer Wheels, Dynatech, and AMSOIL among others.
New crew chief Argo comes on board to make the decisions on the car, which Schuerenberg welcomes.
“We just wanna make this work, and have something we can call our own. I’ve always admired his meticulousness and his attitude at the track. He’s a calm guy, and I’m looking forward to focusing on racing and having him give me a fast car. He hasn’t been around a long time, but he’s a super smart guy and I’m really confident we can win a bunch together,” Schuerenberg concluded.
The #20N Mach-1/Rider opens its season with the February 20-22 “Winter Dirt Games V” at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. Advance tickets are available at BubbaRacewayPark.com and more information will be released concerning the event through USACracing.com.