The first race of the season is a nervous time for racers, even the seasoned veterans. So it’s no wonder Lucas Oil Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie Hector Arana Jr. is a ball of nerves as he and his father Hector Arana Sr. prepare for this weekend’s season-opening 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
“I have every feeling there is right now,” Arana Jr. said. “I’m excited, nervous, overwhelmed, happy, and so much more. I’m feeling it all right now. Every time I sit down and just envision my first time down the track at the Gatornationals, my heart literally starts to race.”
Arana Jr. is a second-generation racer, following in the footsteps of his father, who won the 2009 championship after more than two decades of competition. The rookie has watched his dad make thousands of quarter-mile passes, and now he’s ready to make his first.
“I’m feeling comfortable and ready to get down there and just get my first pass at an event under my belt,” Arana Jr. said. “I’m not too worried about the big crowd distracting me. I’ve been going up there for years with my dad although this time it’s going to be a little different. I just want to go up there and lay down a nice smooth pass to start the weekend and my career off right.”
Arana Sr. has some mixed emotions on his son’s debut.
“I’m happy that I’m going to be racing with my son but on the other hand it scares me because he’s my son I don’t want anything to happen to him,” Arana Sr. said. “I set him up with the best chassis, the best leathers, and newest helmet to make sure he’s safe and ready to race.”
Arana Sr. knows his son has what it takes to be competitive in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class and that he will shine once he gets his first day of competition out of the way.
“Once Hector qualifies for his first race and gets more seat time he’ll feel more comfortable on the bike,” Arana Sr. said. “I know he can do it. I told him to ride the bike, listen to the bike, and everything will fall into place. I know we’ll have a great season together. ”
Arana Jr. has very high aspirations for his rookie season. Although he may have the mixed emotions of a rookie, he has the goals of a seasoned rider.
“My goal for the weekend is to qualify in the top half and win the race,” Arana Jr. said. “I have to set my goals high. I have the bike and the motor to do it, the rest is all on me.”
The entire Arana family has been working hard to make sure Arana Jr.’s bike is ready to roll for the 2011 season.
“We’ve been working really hard trying to get the bikes ready with most of our focus going to Hector’s bike, and of course I neglected mine until the last minute,” Arana Sr. said. “So it’s been rough but we got it all together and we’re ready to start the season in Gainesville.”
Arana Sr. was supposed to have a brand new bike for the 2011 season and Arana Jr. was going to ride his dad’s championship-winning Lucas Oil Buell but when it came down to it, the new bike was a better fit for the rookie.
“I want to thank my dad for setting me up with this new Kosman chassis,” Arana Jr. said. “He was supposed to get the new bike but when we went testing the new bike was a better fit for me and less work for the team so I lucked out and got a brand new bike to start off my career.”
Arana Jr. also is very thankful and humbled by the support he has received since the announcement that he will be competing in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2011. He knows that he wouldn’t be able to have done any of it without his support system.
“I just want to thank Forest and Charlotte Lucas and everyone at Lucas Oil,” Arana Jr. said. ” I also need to thank my dad, mom, brother and sister and everyone else that has always been supportive.”