Logan Dernoshek stands alongside the Yenko Stinger Corvair he'll drive on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL next week. (Aaron Creed Photo)

Dernoshek’s Family Legacy Comes Full Circle

CONCORD, N.C. – Logan Dernoshek, like numerous aspiring race car drivers, ascended the short-track racing ladder in his younger years.

After a successful start in karting, the Pennsylvania-born driver won races at dirt ovals like Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway in an economy modified and finished runner-up in a regional touring series.  He then made his foray into pavement racing, achieving impressive results locally at speedways such as Motordrome and Jennerstown.

It was then at age 24 in 2003 that Dernoshek took his talents on the road. He competed in the former Hooters Pro Cup Series semi-regularly, turning in a best finish of eighth at the now-defunct Illiana Speedway.  Following a few years on that circuit and relocating to North Carolina, it was over to the ASA Late Model Series where he had some respectable runs at places like Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia and South Carolina’s Florence Motor Speedway.

So how did Dernoshek transition from racing his bright green modern Hamke stock car chassis on ovals to turning laps in an iconic vintage car on renowned road courses throughout the country?

“In 2008, with it getting pretty obvious with NASCAR development involvement and costs getting out of control, a friend of ours had a Yenko Stinger Corvair and invited me to race it,” Dernoshek explained. “It was a new challenge and a few years later we built our own car and began campaigning it in the mid-2010s.

There is a much closer connection and legacy though which dates back more than a half-century that, in a way, has come full circle within the family.

“My dad worked at Yenko in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and was a builder and mechanic on the original cars which won some major races,” Dernoshek noted about the relation to the relatable yet unique air-cooled rear-engine machine. “The current car is a YS-057 with all of the parts based on a 1966 Chevrolet Yenko Stinger Corvair and dad builds the engines.  The car was originally a rusted away street car so we rebodied it, but we are very much purists and try to keep the thing as close to ’66 as possible with four-wheel drum brakes and four single-barrel carbs.”

The father-son pair in recent years has been enjoying their time checking off bucket list facilities, including Sebring Int’l Raceway in February of last year with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n. They placed first in Group 3, reserved for series-produced sports cars and sedans in production prior to 1972.

“When we were at Sebring, dad mentioned to me that it had been exactly 50 years since he had last been there,” Dernoshek indicated.  “We stayed at the Turn 7 hotel and he pointing out the aerial photos they had from then where he had explained how different everything looked back then.

“Dad’s 79 and he’s not going to be around forever, so he and I have a lot of fun getting to all of these places that we can and get to meet a lot of great people and see a lot of great cars.”

While his father Warren keeps the car they compete with at his place in Pennsylvania, Logan resides in Kannapolis, N.C., where he now runs his own business, Dernoshek Racing and Restoration, a speed shop specializing in vintage race cars as well as street car restoration and hotrods with additional services including chassis dyno and engine building.

“I have a degree in mechanical engineering and worked on nuclear power plants,” Dernoshek remarked. “I got tired of the corporate grind and I’ve always been a car guy so when I moved south I figured this appealed to my engineering mentality and started my own deal. There are a lot of people interested in vintage racing.  It is really gaining in popularity.”

Fast forward to present day where Dernoshek and his father are about ready to debut at a track around the corner.  The inaugural Charlotte SpeedTour takes place March 18-21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will feature both the SVRA and new Trans Am Series ProAm Challenge on the 17-turn 2.28-mile ROVAL layout. Despite it being a short 20-minute drive from home, he has never run a lap on the grounds since moving to the state.

“I ran at the kart track off the backstretch in the 1990s, but other than that I have never been on the big track,” Dernoshek stated. “There’s a Track Night in America taking place on Wednesday so maybe I’ll take my Camaro out there to learn some things ahead of time.

“We had engine problems at the Daytona Historics in November, so we have the backup engine and will put it on the dyno and get it tuned up.  Hopefully we can have a good worry-free weekend and we’ll be able to run up front.”

From there, they hope to continue getting to more major tracks across the country when time permits, including one close to his original home for the July’s Historics at PittRace event in Beaver County, Pa., but will continue to support the SVRA when and where they can as well.

“(SVRA President and CEO) Tony (Parella) and the crew are doing a great job bringing legitimacy to vintage racing to be considered one of the top forms of motorsport in America,” Dernoshek said. “It gives you an outlet with no pressure.  You can walk around and enjoy yourself, and they are sharing that with everybody that attends and through their streaming and app, which is phenomenal.”

Spectators are welcome and encouraged with multi and single day passes to the Charlotte SpeedTour event available, which grants everyone open access to the paddock, offering an up-close look at the variety of cars and drivers that will be on hand.

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