Auto Racing: Double-duty Danta eyeing twice the success
By Tony Baranek email@example.com May 9, 2013 7:16PM
Anthony Danta | Kim Kemperman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2013 6:34AM
With sponsorship money to run a full season in his No. 51 car at Illiana Speedway and another being built for him to drive at Grundy County Speedway, the full late-model potential of Anthony Danta finally may be realized in 2013.
The 26-year-old Orland Park native has gotten off to a strong start at Illiana, finishing fifth on opening night and almost pulling off a last-lap pass Saturday of winner Mark Ross Jr.
Soon he’ll be making his season debut at Grundy, driving a late-model owned and built by former area track champion Terry Laxton.
The busy schedule is a departure for Danta, who after winning the limited late-model title at Illiana in 2005 basically became a part-time driver after joining the late-model ranks in 2007.
“We had a lot of nights coming here and watching,” Danta said Saturday at Illiana. “We were low on money, so we just sort of raced when we could.”
When he did, Danta ran with the top dogs. During his first two seasons he won three features in each. Last year he captured one.
Running a full season with sponsorship funding from John Boomsma should translate into a championship contender, especially at Illiana, where Danta has the most experience.
“I don’t think it’ll hurt,” Danta said. “The competition around here locally is huge. You’ve got Eddie Hoffman, of course. He can win anywhere. My uncle Mike (White) has won races everywhere around here, championships at Raceway, Grundy and Illiana.
“When you finish third to Hoffman or him or Jeff Cannon, you’re not finishing third to a bad group of guys. That’s what you’ve got to take into consideration, too. I hope running on a regular basis will make us better. We’ll find out by the end of the year if it does or not.”
Laxton said the Grundy car, which he drove a handful of times, could be ready for Danta as soon as May 17.
“He and his dad (Frank) and I have been friends for many years,” Laxton said. “Over the winter we would do Friday night dinners, and I got to thinking it might be a good idea if Anthony drove the car.
“He seems to be pretty well excited. Anthony is a digger. He never gives up. You know, some people just go with the flow, but there are others who put in a little bit extra. That’s where (the Dantas) are at.”
Illiana Speedway pure stocks competitor Melissa Wilson won four heat races last season. Already in 2013 she’s won two.
The Hobart, Ind., native made her debut in 2011 after a quick driving lesson from fellow competitor and fiancee Dave Keuhs.
“I’ve never driven a stick (shift) on the street,” she said. “Forty-five minutes before my first powder puff race is how I learned how to drive stick.”
Wilson’s heat race run Saturday was impressive as she came from the back of the pack. A good season in the pure stocks could result in a move up to the turbo stox.
“I’m loving it,” she said. “I’m getting used to the car, and it’s fast. Right now I’m just having a lot of fun.”
In the chase
As the story went, Cheryl Hryn, of Posen, switched from the turbo stox at Illiana to the street stocks at Grundy because it got a bit too dicey racing on a nightly basis at Illiana with her husband-to-be, five-time turbo champion Bill Serviss.
So guess who was at Grundy a week ago, racing some of the time bumper to bumper with Hryn and eventually beating her in the feature by one position?
“I had to go out there and make an honest woman out of her,” Serviss said, laughing. “She did outqualify me, but for the record I had a plug wire that popped off.”
He did have a serious reason for bringing the No. 17 out to Grundy. While “retired” from season points chases, Serviss plans to run in the three-race “Street Stock Challenge,” which consists of two races at Illiana and one at Grundy.
“Yeah, I want to get better at Grundy. I want to win the challenge,” he said. “I’ll probably go out there one night in June and maybe one in July.”
After last week’s rainout, Kankakee Speedway is opening its dirt season at 8 p.m. Friday. ... Spectator drags are on the schedule, along with the usual late-model, Mid-Am, street stock and 4-cylinder divisions at Grundy at 8 p.m. Friday. ... The first 200 moms through the gate by 7 p.m. Saturday at Illiana will receive a Mother’s Day gift bag.