Local Auto Racing: This driver switch has two happy parties
By Tony Baranek email@example.com May 8, 2014 9:00PM
Eddie Ligue, John Senerchia, Eddie Ligue Sr. and Pat Ligue celebrate Senerchia's twin titles at Grundy County Speedway and Illiana Speedway at the end of the 2013 season. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2014 7:03AM
One was hungry to come back.
One was ready for a change.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for John Senerchia and Eddie Ligue at the end of the 2013 racing season.
Senerchia had just completed a rare double play: winning the street stock title at Grundy County Speedway in his own 1986 Monte Carlo and the turbo stox title at Illiana Speedway in Ligue’s 1986 Monte Carlo.
Along the way, Senerchia and his wife, Kari, celebrated the birth of their second son, Zack.
With his oldest son, Jacob, soon to turn 5, Senerchia spent some serious time over the winter putting his future plans into proper perspective.
In the pecking order of life, Zack and Jacob emerged at the top.
“I love being at the track, but it’s time to get out and be doing something with my kids,” the 43-year-old Palos Heights native said. “We’re getting at that point where they’re involved in things and I don’t want to be at the track and missing out.”
When Senerchia put a pecking order together on whom he was going to sell his Monte Carlo to, the list-topper was Ligue.
Ligue, who asked Senerchia to drive his car at Illiana last season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders, was all ears.
“About a month ago he told me he did decide that he was going to get rid of it, and I had first choice,” Ligue said. “A week or two before Grundy opened I told him, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ So we went from there.
“When I bought the car he told me, ‘Yep, you’re pretty much going to get everything, crew and all.’ So I got the whole package deal.”
Ligue, 38, who won the turbo stox title at Illiana in 2008, already has one feature win in the No. 77 car at Grundy, and registered a heat race win and a third-place finish in the No. 43 at Illiana. Among his competitiors at Illiana will be his brother, Pat, who was fifth in points in 2013.
“I was a lot of fun,” the Chicago resident said about getting back behind the wheel. “I missed out on a lot last year. I’m hoping to go for the title at both Illiana and Grundy.”
It’s certainly a tough act to follow.
Senerchia, one of the Chicago area’s top drivers, won the fifth and sixth track titles of his career in 2013. He captured his first in a mini-stock at Kankakee in 1992, the next in a semi-pro car at Raceway Park in 1999 and went back-to-back with championships in the Mid-Am class at Grundy in 2006 and Illiana in ’07.
Last year was quite a last hurrah, if indeed it turns out to be.
“We had a lot of fun,” Senerchia said. “It was a lot of work between two tracks, and then with a son on the way.
“I only said I was going to run one place, then we got to where I ran Eddie’s car. We started out pretty good at both tracks, and just kept on going.”
The next Senerchia to win a feature race — at least in his own ride — will be Jacob or Zack.
“If I’m going to spend money on racing I’m going to do it with my kids,” John Senerchia said. “I have to wait until he turns 5 in July, but if my son wants to pursue and do it, I’ll get my satisfaction watching him race
“If we go out there and he doesn’t want to do it, then we’ll do something else.”
This dad’s going to get it right.