Q&A: Behind The Wheel With Pro Racing Champion John Heinricy

Matick Chevy John Heinricy Sonic 2016 Winner
John Heinricy and his Sonic. 

Racecar driver John Heinricy is keeping busy this season racing two vehicles, teaching amateur drivers to maneuver their way around racetracks, and setting fastest times when he gets behind the wheel. 

Heinricy of Clarkston, Mich. drives a 2002 Camaro in the A Sedan series and the white 2012 Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic in the B Spec series.

He has scored so well in early competition that he is qualified to race his Matick Sonic in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in Indianapolis Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

His racing resume includes five national championships in A Sedan, nabbed between 2003-14, and one in B Spec in 2015. Add to that seven other national championships in Corvette and Cobalt racing.

“I have a lot to be proud of,” says Heinricy.

 
High Performance Driving Event Matick Chevy 2
Corvette pro John Heinricy enjoys taking others out onto the National Corvette Museum's track in his C7 during high-performance driving events sponsored by Matick Chevrolet.

Our Corvette Blog reporters caught up with John Heinricy between racing weekends to talk about what's happening this summer.

Corvette Blog: How were your early races this season?

John Heinricy: On May 13-14, I went to Pittsburgh International Race Complex and ran second in the Matick Chevy Sonic on Saturday and came in first on Sunday.

In Pittsburgh in the Camaro, on the first day the steering rack broke and we were unable to repair it, and I didn’t (race) it.

On May 27-28, I went to Pocono Raceway in New York and won both races with the Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic. That’s pretty good! At Pocono, we had some mechanical issues with the Camaro, but I was able to come in fourth on Saturday and second on Sunday – a respectable finish.

At Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Mich. on July 8-9, I only ran the Matick Sonic. I came in first on Saturday and second on Sunday.

CB: Talk about the difference in the two styles of racing for you.

JH: In the A Sedan group, it’s Camaros and Mustangs. I did see an early 2000 Cadillac CTSV or two running.

This is like old school racing, cars with older V8 engines with carburetors. (The rules) don’t allow anti-lock brakes or traction control. They run relatively small tires and brakes – and don’t corner or stop very well.

There is a lot of challenge driving them fast. They do have more than 400 HP. They’re tough to drive in dry weather or rain because of the balance they have, meaning they have a lot of power but not much brakes or tires.

There is plenty of competition and a lot of different people, including women. That kind of racing appeals to me.

The B Spec (Sonic) has 100 HP, hardly any power. You have to change your thinking – the car is smaller, lighter and has front-wheel drive. It’s a whole different technique.

At Pocono, I got right out of one car and into the other. It would be nice to have some time to settle down.

CB: What else is on your summer racing schedule?

JH: I recently went to Waterford Hills Road Course with the Sonic for about 20 laps on open test day. This weekend (July 22-23) I’ll be at New Jersey Motorsports Park. I need one more A Sedan race for the runoffs, and I may go to Grattan Racetrack on Aug. 12-13 with the Sonic for extra practice and testing.

 

CB: Do you have a favorite track?

JH: I favor ones that are like winding country roads like Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Road America in Wisconsin and Mid-Ohio. Waterford Hills is a fun local track and close to me.

John Heinricy Matick Chevy Mobil Oil
John Heinricy and his Matick Chevy-sponsored Sonic were featured in Mobil Oil racing ads.
 

CB: Any activity this year with high-performance driving events (HPDE) and Autocross?

JH: I have a 2017 Corvette Grand Sport I purchased at Matick Chevy and have done HPDEs (with my car) at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. and another at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

Alan Johnson, Matick Chevy Performance vehicle manager, went to both with me.

As in the past, Matick Chevy, a top Corvette dealer in Michigan, donated six hot laps with me. That typically costs drivers $150. Instead Matick Chevy has donated the money to the museum.

It’s quite popular, with 100-200 people at both events. Besides driving my car, I drive participants’ cars and give them pointers on how to drive the course.

These are more road racing drivers, ages 30s to 70s, on nice big country-road racetracks. The cars there are mostly Corvettes but there are a few Camaros, Porches and Mustangs.

I plan to do one more HPDE at Bowling Green in conjunction with the Corvette Museum’s 23rd anniversary and Hall of Fame inductions

It will a particularly good weekend to be there because (friends) Jim Minneker of Rochester Hills, a GM engineer, and Tommy Morrison, a Corvette racing legend, will be inducted. (John was inducted in 2015.)

CB: And Autocross?

JH: Because my schedule has been so busy, I’ve only been at one Corvette Club of Michigan Autocross at Schoolcraft College in June.

Matick Chevy’s Alan Johnson let me drive his 2015 Stingray and I set the fastest time of the day. I did get my Grand Sport out on July 4 for time trials at Waterford Hills and set the fastest time of the day there for one lap.

CB: Sounds like there’s so much on your schedule.

JH: It’s been a busy summer but I’m enjoying it and trying to fit everything in. We just had another grandson born this past year so now we have seven – ages 9 months to 11 years.

CB: You work closely with Matick Chevrolet in metro Detroit as a sponsor, too.

JH: We set a lot of goals that are being achieved and I’m pleased that has been successful. We’ve worked to improve the Corvette business. Sales of Corvettes have gone up dramatically. We are working to make Matick Chevy known as a high performance car and truck dealer, not only in sales but also in service.

Drivers in autocross are getting setups done at Matick Chevy. Having Alan Johnson there on staff with his car-guy personality and performance knowledge has helped a lot. The dealership has changed to make it more satisfying for the customers.

Published July 21, 2017

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