Racecar driver John Heinricy, the 2015 B-Spec national champion, looks forward to another great season in his Matick Chevrolet-sponsored Chevy Sonic.
When GM execs approached then-retired GM engineer John Heinricy four years ago with the proposal of designing a racing kit for Sonic Chevys, he bit.
“I ended up buying a wrecked Sonic and built a race car,” says Heinricy, by then a seasoned racer himself.
That early knowledge paid off last year when the Clarkston resident drove off with the B-Spec championship in his Matick Chevy sponsored Sonic, winning it all at Daytona.
Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) describes B-Specs as race cars as subcompacts that are “fun to drive, fuel efficient and handle well.”
The class was established to provide regular people with an easier access to racing.
Heinricy, who retired from GM in 2008, has raced since 1984, driving mainly Corvettes, Firebirds and Camaros.
And he still will enter races this year with his Corvette C7 and Camaro.
The Sonic adventure will be unique this year, he says.
“I’ll be defending a championship. It puts a different pressure on you.”
Next up – steering the Matick Chevy Sonic onto the Mid-Ohio Sports Car track for the Great Lakes Race of Champions Majors June 3-5.
Because Heinricy was last year’s champion, race officials have put restrictions on his Sonic.
“They have taken away some power on the intake,” Heinricy says.
“They do it because they want everybody to have a chance.”
Heinricy will face drivers, for example, in Honda Fits, Kia Rios and Ford Fiestas.
He’s just come off a weekend of highs and lows. Heinricy won the May 14 race in his Pontiac Firebird at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex, but in his second race on May 15, the car’s throttle gave him trouble.
“It had started snowing several laps before the end of the race,” he recalls. “I let off the accelerator, but it stayed open. I was going 140 mph and couldn’t stop the car. I went into a tire wall and damaged the car. It’s not fixable so I’m working on another car.”
Heinricy says he was “bruised pretty good,” but is focusing ahead.
“I put it (crashes) out of my mind and go on to the next race,” he says. “I feel just as involved as I always have.”
He has a “good chance” in his Matick Chevy Sonic among the B-Spec competitors at Mid-Ohio.
This is the first of seven races in which he’ll compete this season. The final championship will be held at Mid Ohio.
The summer will also find Heinricy at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. He recently joined the board of directors there.
People who donate to the museum can slide into the passenger seat in their own Corvette to enjoy “hot laps” with Heinricy at the wheel.
Matick Chevrolet, one of the Midwest's largest Corvette dealers, will be donating six hot laps for participants this year.
“I talk to participants and do some driving on the track in participants’ cars. I take them for three laps on the track. It’s very popular.”
Heinricy pushes the cars into the “80 percent” range, he says, so it's a good run, not just a slow roll.
“Pretty hard,” he adds.
Heinricy does admit racing is his “No. 1” activity.
“I love the competition, cars and technical aspects of it,” he says. “My wife and family are incredibly supportive of me.”
“They try to schedule weddings and births around my racing schedule,” he says with a laugh.