Whether he was racing go-karts, Dwarf Cars, Limited Late Models or Cup Lite cars, each step along Kreig Heroth's racing career has been a learning process.
All the hard lessons and long hours paid off in 2012 when the Ephratah native picked up his first career Small Block Supermodified track championship at historic Oswego Speedway.
"My father [Dwayne] went to Oswego State and we started going there when I was really small," Heroth said. "The asphalt thing just really appealed to me. It might be the speed or the history, I don't know. I know there is history at Fonda and a lot of other places, but it is just amazing to me that you can go to Oswego on any given night and someone that was in the Indy 500 that year is racing at Oswego on a weekly basis. It is unbelievable. Last year, we had John Andretti in the pits every week because his kid [Jarett Andretti] was running a supermodified at Oswego. That says something to have somebody of that caliber at a small track in upstate New York. That really gave me the true love of asphalt racing."
Kreig Heroth poses with his Small Block Supermodified at the annual Gater Racing News Motorsports Expo March 10 at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Heroth won the Oswego SBS rookie of the Year award in 2008 and picked up the victory in the 2011 SBS Race of Champions after placing fourth in the points standings and recording a pair of feature wins.
In 2012, Heroth duplicated his feature win count and was consistent enough all season to be in contention for the SBS track championship. He capped off the season in style, capturing the Aug. 18 SBS feature to win the division championship by six points.
"I am still learning and I am glad to be a part of this class," Heroth said. "We did win the championship there last year and had two wins. In a way it was an up and down season. We blew a motor in the middle of the year and we had to fight back from that. We hope to keep learning and opening some eyes for a chance to move up. It was a brand new team last year, which is even more remarkable. I did have a couple of different rides before this and they were older cars and I had some good people behind me there."
The Won 4 Racing team came together with a new Ray Hedger Fabrication chassis owned by Doug Soucy and Dwayne Heroth.
"I had a gentleman by the name of Doug Soucy from Johnstown step forward and we put this deal together last year," Kreig said. "Without him and the members of this team I would not have been able to do this. We have new stuff and Ray Hedger going through and making this car one of his own. Finger Lakes Machine built two great powerplants this year. NAPA of Johnstown helps us out with parts along with G&G Oil and Fuel of Ephratah, Dougs' Auto Advantage in Johnstown and hopefully we have a couple more potential people coming on board soon to help us out. Of course my parents Dwayne and Carol and Kreig Heroth Motorsports as a whole, and my wife Rachel and my crew - Spencer Lebo, Scott Gregg, Bret Gascoigne, Dan Krutz, Patrick Feeney and Jim Schefcick. I have a great support group around me."
Soucy's involvement came through his long time interest in Indy Car racing.
"I am a big fan of the Indy 500 and spent a lot of time there in the month of May and worked on the public address for the track announcers there for three years," Soucy said. "One of the guys I bumped into there worked on Otto Sitterly's car and found out I was from the area. He said 'You're from upstate New York and haven't been to Oswego?' So finally I went and it is just so different than anything else. I met Kreig in the pits without knowing that he lived 15 miles from me and I gave him a little sponsorship money and followed him for a few years. I didn't really like the deal he had with his previous car owner and I saw a lot of talent in him so I decided to take a break from Indiana and focus on this. I did not intend to have a new car, but we believe Ray Hedger makes the best cars and he has given us a lot of help."
The Hedger chassis No. 04 is powered by a 400-horsepower small block Chevy with a two barrel carburetor. The SBS series allows teams to run no more than 30 10 inch Hoosier slicks in a season.
"The suspension is pretty limited," Heroth said. "You can run a racing suspension, which I recommend. It is a cool little racecar. We run a NASCAR-style Kevlar blatter cell so it is safe. It has a lot of interesting things that keep the cost down. We actually run Ford lower control arms off a pickup truck, that are stock, in the front end.
"Our fastest lap at Oswego last year was 19.1, around 120 miles per hour. To go that good and still have components on the car that can keep the cost down is great. It is racing and you are going to spend money, but it is a lot more affordable than on the other side of the pits with the big block supermodifieds."
Heroth also plans to spend time behind the wheel of more than just the small block supermodified this season.
"We have an asphalt modified that Ray Hedger built and we ran full time in 2009," Heroth said. "We took a year off from limiteds and ran that on our own and did pretty good with it. We ran at Spencer and Shangri-La and had some top fives. The motor for that should be here very soon. My goal is to run that once a month at Chemung or Spencer and in the future it is not out of the question we might go east to Stafford and Thompson. That is where the big boys are. I also ran a TQ Midget at Wall stadium last year and that was awesome. I am kind of growing a relationship with a few of those guys, so my goal is to be able to run three or four shows in those, too."
However, growing up in an area that is predominantly dirt track fans, Heroth said dirt tracking is not out of the question.
"I still love the dirt stuff and I go to several dirt races every year," he said. "I would not be opposed to running a midget at the Albany-Saratoga dirt track. Racing is racing; I don't discriminate. Ever since I started going to Oswego with my parents, my dream has been to race a super modified. Then I got a real passion for the asphalt modifieds going to the tour shows with those guys and I never looked back. Everyone has asked why I don't get a dirt car. It is one of those things that I have networked with so many asphalt people and gotten opportunities on the asphalt so that is where we are at."
Heroth, a technology teacher in the Richfield Springs School District, said racing has provided him with many opportunities and helped develope lasting relationships.
"I have raced at upward of 30 race tracks in the northeast and it has just made me a better driver by being able to adapt to different places," he said. "I have raced with and met a lot off different people and networking is very important in this sport. I eventually got hooked up with Ray Hedger in 2008 and I have been with him ever since whether it is in an asphalt modified or limiteds at Oswego. I am just looking to keep learning and go from there. I encourage anyone around home to check out Oswego it is really hard to leave after you have been there."