Behind the Wheel
Kings Without Wings
RYAN HIGGS CLOSES OUT THE 2012 SEASON AS XCEL CHASSIS CHAMPION
Every racer dreams of the season Ryan Higgs had for his 2012 campaign clinching his first Xcel Chassis championship in high fashion.
The Nazareth, Pa native can't remember when racing wasn't a part of life in the Higgs household. "Some of my earliest memories are going to Nazareth Speedway with my grandfather Jack Zeiner Sr . I was too little to appreciate the history he was a part of until I got older. What I did learn I take with me every time me my dad Chris and my uncle Jack pull into a track to race. "
Ryan learned his way around racing helping his uncle at the now closed but still talked about Moc-A-Tek Speedway and the ever popular Five Mile Speedway located in Lisle, Ny. His first time behind the wheel was his uncles street stock at Moc-a-Tek for warm ups and the following weekend at Five Mile Point Speedway doing warm ups again. Who would have guessed a racing career would come full circle when one of the first tracks he drove would also be the one where he would clinch the 2012 Xcel Chassis 600 modified championship.
During the winter of 2007, Ryan decided he wanted to drive his own race car and with his families support looked into different classes. He had heard about the Xcel Chassis series and the affordability to run full time all season. " It's not like it used to be when my grandfather raced. Now a days you go to a speed shop to get your parts instead of the junk yard. I didn't want to get into a car I couldn't run every week because of finances and the Xcel Modifieds seemed the way to go. It's not all about the wallet but more about the racer and doing your homework." Starting out in a used car that year gave Ryan the learning curve he needed to start his racing career and work towards his goal.
Coming into the 2012 season Ryan had set his goal of winning the championship and little did he know this would be the year that Ryan Higgs could only have dreamed of with an average of 4.4 for the season finishing in the top 5 13 out of 17 races with 2 wins for the year. The most memorable win was the last lap pass at Grandview Speedway in April and the second win would come towards the end of the season with Higgs taking home a "King of the Can" plaque courtesy of Penn Can Speedway. The only night Ryan finished out of the top ten was at Black Rock Speedway after a multi car wreck with a torn up front axle.
Sponsors have played a big role in today's economy. Jim Flurers of Flurers Auto Body has been the primary sponsor for the #16 of Higgs since 2007 with SR Recycling and Joe's Garage coming on board later. "It's so hard to find a sponsor these days let alone have one stay with you for 5 years. Jim has always been a big supporter of mine and I can't thank him enough for sticking with us."
Ryan and his family will cap the 2012 season with the champion being crowned at the Xcel Chassis Banquet on December 1st . Brian Mady stated how the majority of Ryan's competitors felt on his year. "You couldn't ask for a better champion than Ryan. The way he carries himself on and off the track makes him an all around good guy. He treats everybody with respect whether you're a veteran or a rookie. He takes what he learns and passes it on. The whole team deserves it and I hope they enjoy every minute of it.
I asked Ryan on his plans for the 2013 season and at this point a decision hasn't been made. He will be making an appearance at the AARN Motorsports show held in January and hopes to have his plans in place by then.
After reliving the 2012 season, Ryan didn't know how he could thank his dad for all the late nights in the garage and the advise thru out the year. "Consistency is the key to any championship. You can bring home a win but at the end of the season I wanted to bring the championship home. Since I started in 2007, my dad, Chris, has been by my side thru the highs and lows. I can remember when I blew the head gasket on my mom's car on the way to the track knowing she wasn't happy about it. When we pulled into my driveway at the end of the night my mom and dad came outside but when my dad walked over the race car and asked if it was good versus asking about mom's car it wasn't a good thing. Now looking back I realize that my dad and I had memories that could never be taken away just like I had with my grandfather."
""I wouldn't have been able to do this if it wasn't for my dad being there all these years. All the time and effort he invested this year alone is overwhelming and just saying thanks doesn't seem to do it justice. At the beginning of the year, we sat in the garage and talked a lot about the memories from Nazareth and Mok-a-Tek and how cool it would be to win the championship. Now I can look back at 2012 with pride and say to my dad, "Thanks for the memories."
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