Ascs Herrera Ks
Johnny Herrera. (Ken Simon photo)

Herrera Starts Sprint Car Team; Jace Park To Drive

Longtime winged sprint car driver Johnny Herrera is introducing a new 410 sprint car team to the landscape during the coming year.

In partnership with JB Henderson Construction, Herrera plans to contest a 50 to 60 race schedule with Johnny Herrera Racing and driver, Jace Park. The team will primarily compete in the Midwest. Herrera plans to be in attendance for national events hosted by the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and High Limit Racing when they visit the area.

He also plans to compete at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway semi-regularly. 

Timing was the key for the new partnership between Herrera and John Stroud, owner of JB Henderson Construction, as a sprint car operation recently came up for sale.

“He wanted to have a 410 race program at some point and a team buyout came available,” Herrera explained. “It happened faster than we thought it was going to.”

On his own, Herrera has been waiting for an opportunity to come along to start a team.

After taking a step back from racing in recent years, the 1986 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year was looking for another way to make a living in the sport. Over the last four years, the New Mexico native has mainly worked as a crew chief and mentored drivers, such as sprint car driver Harli White and now Park.

“At some point when I got done racing, I did want to have a race team, but it was just a matter of it all coming together and the timing of it,” Herrera said.

Jace Park Ascs Lawton 6 22 23 , Jeff Taylor Photo
Jace Park in ASCS competition. (Jeff Taylor photo)

He’s approaching the first year of JHR as a season of building, both in regard to the 410 program and concerning Park’s development.

The 17-year-old racer from Kansas cut his teeth in micro sprints and midgets, but ran a hefty 360 sprint car schedule last year. Park earned his first career ASCS win in the No. 87j Morton Racing entry in April.

Park also contested several 410 shows this past season, including an All Star Circuit of Champions event at Missouri’s I-70 Speedway and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series stop at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas.

He won his first 410 sprint car heat race with the All Stars, but had issues with the engine that kept him out of the feature at I-70.

As Herrera was on the Morton Racing crew, he witnessed Park’s development firsthand.

“He’s raced a little bit of everything and everything he’s been in, he goes fast and wins in,” Herrera said. “I thought he adapted to the (410 sprint car) better than he did 360 racing. It seemed to fit him really well.”

Herrera recognizes Park is still in a learning phase and will make mistakes, but as long as the JHR team is competitive, Herrera will consider the effort a success. As a former racer himself, he plans to act as a driver coach for Park.

“I can’t tell him every scenario that’s going to happen on the race track, but I can give him ideas of what to do in the car,” Herrera said. “Me being a driver, I’ve experienced those situations, so maybe I can help speed up his learning curve.”

It’s not a completely new scenario for Herrera, who has lent advice more than a time or two to the younger generation of racers.

“I’d give advice here or there — it’s something that just comes with you being older and a veteran, I should say,” 57-year-old Herrera said. “That was a goal at some point to have my own race team, and have a young driver that I could help bring up.”

There are several attributes Herrera has noticed in Park over the last year that continue to impress the 17-time World of Outlaws feature winner.

“He’s not timid of the race car,” Herrera noted. “He just has that instinct to react to something that’s in front of him.”

Though there are certainly trials and challenges ahead — the first being to secure additional funding to make it easier to get up and down the road — Herrera is clear that this isn’t going to be a “one and done” operation.

“This is an ongoing thing and we’re going to try to build a very good, respectable race team in the future,” Herrera said. “I just look forward to being competitive and hey, if we win a race or two, we do. And if we don’t, it’s not always about winning, but it’s about being competitive and learning.”