Sergio Pena Looks Forward to Freshman Year On and Off the Track

[media-credit name=”Photo Credit” align=”alignright” width=”262″][/media-credit]Sergio Pena, one of the graduates of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program, is looking forward to his freshman year of learning on and off the track. The young up and comer will soon enjoy his freshman run with a new race team on the track, as well as his freshman year off the track as a student at Radford University.

For his freshman year on the track, Pena will pilot the No. 1 Toyota Camry in the K&N Pro Series East with Hattori Racing Enterprises. The 18 year old from Winchester, Virginia had previously raced in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program with Revolution Racing.

“I’m really excited for this season,” Pena said. “I actually did not re-sign with Revolution Racing this year, who I was with for two years, but signed with a new team, Hattori Racing Enterprises.”

“My crew chief and Andy Santerre all left Revolution Racing and merged with Shigeaki Hattori and created a team for me to race in the K&N East Series.”

Santerre, a four-time champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, will manage Pena’s race team. He will be assisted by Matt Goslant, who will continue as crew chief for Pena, having worked with him last season, winning three of 12 races and finishing 5th in the East Series point standings.

“I am excited to be working with Sergio again this season,” Goslant said. “He has the talent to be a champion and we are a good team together.”

“He gives me 100% and I could not ask for anything more in a driver.”

Although a freshman with Hattori Racing Enterprises, Pena actually will be entering his third year in the K&N Series. And with that experience, he has his eyes set on one goal for 2012.

“My main goal is to win a championship,” Pena said simply. “The first year I struggled learning all the tracks and how to drive the cars because they were a lot different than anything I had ever driven before.”

“Last year, I learned a lot and I caught on quicker than I thought I would,” Pena continued. “So this year, the way things are looking, I think we have a great chance to win it.”

“My goal is to win as many races as possible and just learn a lot,” Pena said. “I want to be able to get more comfortable at the bigger tracks like Dover and New Hampshire and Rockingham.”

“I want to gain experience and learn as much as I can from these guys.”

Pena, like so many racers, comes by it genetically.  His father, who came to the United States from Bogota, Columbia when he was 19 years old raced go karts and dirt bikes in his home country.

“He was a two-time champion in national dirt bike racing down there,” Pena said proudly of his father. “So, that’s pretty cool. That’s where I get my racing blood from.”

Pena himself initially followed in his father’s dirt bike footsteps as he launched his racing career.

“I actually started racing dirt bikes when I was five years old,” Pena said. “I got into jumping them and one time I hit a jump and my dad said, “No more, I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“So, he got rid of the bike and got me a go kart instead,” Pena continued. “At the time, I was really upset but now I’m really happy about it.”

“I did go karts from when I was eight years old until thirteen,” Pena said. “Then I moved to a championship series out west and ran road courses in formula cars.”

“Then I had to switch to the ovals, where there was more of a future,” Pena continued. “When we heard about the Drive to Diversity Revolution Racing program, we thought that would be a great opportunity. And that’s how we got into this kind of racing.”

Pena has definitely put his go kart and dirt bike racing behind him, growing fonder for stock cars and oval racing. But the young driver has never forgotten his road racing roots.

“At this point, I like the ovals more,” Pena said. “But there still are some things I like about the road courses, like out-braking people and downshifting and all the switch-back turns.”

“The ovals just bring more excitement,” Pena continued. “You can beat and bang and everything’s really close. It’s a lot harder to win on an oval and so that just makes for more competitive and exciting racing.”

In addition to his on-track career, Pena’s other freshman activity includes starting his college career at Radford University in southern Virginia, where he is majoring in communications. As a freshman, Pena is facing that difficult task of balancing his studies with his new endeavors on the race track.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be with racing,” Pena said. “Missing classes in high school wasn’t too bad but here it’s a little bit tougher to get them to understand that what I’m doing is not just a hobby anymore.”

“Some of them understand but some of them don’t,” Pena continued. “It’s the ones that want you to focus on school and nothing else that are a little tricky. But overall I’ve been able to manage it and I’ll continue to do both until it gets too hard.”

“I really think the communications degree is going to help, like with the media and doing interviews,” Pena said. “I’m also doing media production and I’ve gotten into making videos recently.”

“We have been making videos of the race weekend for promotions and sponsors,” Pena continued. “But being able to speak to the sponsors and the media fluently and well will help me a lot.”

Now that he has his first freshman semester under his belt at college, Pena is looking forward to kicking off his freshman year with Hattori Racing at a storied NASCAR track, Bristol Motor Speedway, on March 17th.

“We actually start off at Bristol this year and that will be pretty cool,” Pena said. “I’ve never even been to Bristol before but I’ve heard a lot of great things about it and watched a lot of races on TV from there.”

“I’m really excited to get started there,” Pena continued. “I think that will be a pretty cool race.”

“I know we will definitely be one of the teams to beat this year.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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