By Lisa Stringer, Tulsa Today
Friday, 21 April 2006
He’s not even in the car yet, but for Lance Blevins, the race has begun – and he needs all the online votes he can get to reach the finish line.
He’s asking friends, friends of friends and complete strangers to make the difference at www.racinforalivin.com.
The 29-year-old Broken Arrowan is vying for a pole position on a new reality TV series where the top prize is $150,000 and a contract to drive for a real NASCAR team.
Blevins definitely has the experience. “I started racing micros with my father when I was 9 years old, and went on to race sprint cars at 15,” he said.
After graduating from Broken Arrow High School in 1996, he made racing a career, pairing with the popular World of Outlaws racing circuit.
“With the World of Outlaws, I used to run about 100 races in a nine-month period, all over the United States,” he said.
After losing his sponsorship in 2003, he joined the family business and with his father, Joe, is co-owner of the Spot Free Car Wash in Broken Arrow. But the racing bug was still under his skin, and when he heard about the contest, sponsored by http://www.racinforalivin.com/, he was ready to go. He submitted his resume of racing accomplishments and waited.
The contest was open only to experienced drivers. Of more than 4,000 drivers who entered the contest, only 50 were accepted by a panel of veteran judges which included established professional drivers and other racing personalities. He was notified in February that he had made the first cut.
Now it’s up to the fans to determine if he makes it to the next level. The 12 drivers with the most votes on July 31 will compete in the series.
“From now until July 31, I’m relying on public votes,” he said. “People can vote as often as they like, as many times as they want to.” Details and voting rules of the contest are posted on the racinforalivin Web site.
Blevins admits he’s a little edgy. “This is a different experience for me,” he laughed. “I’m always in the driver’s seat. I’m in control of what I’m doing when it comes to driving a race car, but here I’m relying on everybody else to vote for me. I’ll do whatever I can to get the word out to people to vote and help me make it into that top 12.”
“I feel that if I get into the top 12, then it’s up to me,” he said. “Right now, though, I really need other people to help me have a shot at this.”
Blevins’ excitement comes through as he summarizes the show’s formula. “The rookies, as they’re calling them, are going to do 50,000 laps at different tracks in those 12 weeks,” Blevins explained, adding that judging will be based on elements such as “how fast you can run laps on your own, how well you can do in traffic with some of the other drivers.” Once a week, one driver will be eliminated from the competition.
“However, even though the driver is eliminated, he doesn’t leave the show, unlike most reality shows,” continued Blevins. “Now he’ll be driving against the other drivers and trying to show his worth to all the NASCAR owners and sponsors.”
At the end of the 12 weeks, the final two drivers will compete for votes during a live, two-hour segment. The winner will then have seven races to prove they’ve learned their sport. If successful, it could mean a big-money bonus and a debut in the NASCAR Cup Series with the team.
The training program will be an intense one. Top veteran drivers and crew chiefs will train the drivers and polish them into winners ready for their NASCAR debut.
In between laps, the rookie drivers will participate in off-track action featuring golf, fishing and other sports. Fans will watch as the rookies reveal their aspirations and realities, and learn how a driver becomes a professional.
“It will be an on- and off-the-track reality show,” said Blevins. “Driving is a major part of it, but the drivers also have to show that they’ve got other elements that will make them successful – like how they handle the camera, how they interact with the public.”
“It’s definitely going to be a neat series,” he said. “It has really grown in popularity and it’s got some good sponsorship. It’s going to be a major event, once the television series starts.”
Blevins believes that there are quite a few as-yet-undiscovered driving talents. “It’s just so hard to get the opportunity to impress a NASCAR owner,” he said. “It’s neat that NASCAR is trying to figure out ways to open the doors so other people can realize their dreams.”
If his drive and determination are any indication of his future, Blevins seems to be on the right track.
For more information – and to vote for Lance Blevins – visit http://www.racinforalivin.com/.
Last Updated ( Friday, 21 April 2006 )