TERRE HAUTE — Chris Rogers knew at an early age that he wanted to be involved in auto racing as an adult.
Now that Rogers is an adult — he’ll turn 23 next Friday — the former West Terre Haute resident would love to be behind the steering wheel of a sweet ride in the NASCAR Nextel Cup or Busch Series.
The reality is he’s not driving in either series, not yet anyway. But that does not mean he’s dissatisfied with his job as mechanic/tire carrier for the Fitz Motorsports team in the Busch Series.
“I like it,” the 2003 West Vigo High School graduate said this week while preparing David Stremme’s No. 22 Dodge for the USG Durock 300 this Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway.
Mike Bliss is the other driver for Fitz Motorsports, based in Mooresville, N.C.
“Right now, I build the exhaust systems for the car and help with some set-up stuff,” Rogers explained. “I also do front-end stuff at the race track.”
His boss, Armando Fitz, ranks seventh in the Busch owner point standings with 2,119 heading into this weekend. Fitz is 847 behind leader Jack Roush, 579 behind runner-up Richard Childress and 402 behind third-place Joe Gibbs.
Stremme posted the team’s highest finish of the season — fifth at Las Vegas on March 10. The team has five top-10 finishes in 2007.
The Fitz team will bring its Supercuts/Family Dollar car to Indianapolis in a couple weeks for the Kroger 200 on July 28 at O’Reilly Raceway Park. That race will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m.
This is Rogers’ first season with the Fitz Motorsports team. The season ends in mid-November, so he should get some time off to visit family and friends over the winter.
“It pays real well to do what we do,” he mentioned. “It’s not a bad job.”
Last year, Rogers worked as a front tire carrier for the ThorSport Racing team out of Sandusky, Ohio, and driver Kerry Earnhardt, eldest son of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
While working toward an associate’s degree in high performance technology, which Rogers received from the University of Northwestern Ohio in December 2005, he maneuvered his way into the serious racing business by working weekends for owner Wayne Peterson’s team in the ARCA series.
Going several years back, his first taste of racing came as a pre-teen.
“I was pretty young — 10, 11, 12,” Rogers recalled. “Me, my mom [Paula], my dad [Jim] and my brother [Bryant], we built my first car, a mud dragster … with over 1,000 horsepower. It kept me out of trouble when I was growing up.”
Rogers later drove UMP Modifieds at Midwest tracks, including Terre Haute, Putnamville and Sullivan.
Paula Rogers used to be able to see Chris a lot more often in those days, but she’s looking forward to him returning to Indiana in two weeks so she can see visit with him again.
“I haven’t seen him since [he accepted the Fitz Motorsports job],” Paula said, “except for on TV and on the Internet.”
Now she can see him in the newspaper.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
TERRE HAUTE — Chris Rogers knew at an early age that he wanted to be involved in auto racing as an adult.
- Hughes News & Views
Hughes, News & Views: Odds in favor of Richard Sherman being mentioned here
I’ve explained my post-2011 NFL allegiances before, but allow me to summarize them one more time for any new readers to this column.
I eased into liking the Indianapolis Colts as my favorite team in the late 1980s. Like plenty of other Wabash Valley sports fans, I became Colts-obsessed when Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and others turned them into an elite franchise in 1999 and the early 2000s.
When the Colts beat Da Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007, I yelled as loud as anyone in Terre Haute.
Hughes, News & Views: The ’78-79 Sycamores rediscover timeless bond
The 1978-79 Indiana State men’s basketball team that posted a 33-1 record and battled Michigan State for the coveted NCAA championship almost 35 years ago isn’t likely to play any more full-court games together, not even just for fun.
Hughes, News & Views: Shaw preparing for 20th season as Rose-Hulman coach
When Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach Jim Shaw gets introduced to the Hulman Center crowd before Sunday afternoon’s exhibition game against Indiana State, think of the old saying “time flies when you’re having fun.”
Hughes, News & Views: Friends remember Jim Bogle
When I covered the semifinal round of the IHSAA boys tennis sectional at Terre Haute North last week, it seemed like there was an empty seat in the bleachers.
In reality, I noticed few — if any — empty seats because plenty of spectators wanted to watch the host Patriots battle No. 14-ranked Terre Haute South for the right to advance to the next day’s sectional championship match.
In the end, junior Nathan Bogle pulled out a dramatic three-set victory at No. 1 singles to help South edge its crosstown rivals 3-2 on its way to capturing the sectional title.
Yet there was something missing.
The person who would have been in that empty seat I imagined, Nathan’s father Jim Bogle, had been battling cancer for close to two years and could not attend the sectional.
Sadly, cancer claimed his life Thursday morning. He was 52.
Hughes, News & Views: Doug Shouse going into ASU Hall of Honor
One thing you can say about members of Terre Haute’s Shouse family: They never have had a problem with running and jumping.
At least not until knee problems hit.
An outstanding athlete since the days I played pick-up basketball games with him and his brothers in the Terre Haute Boys Club and Indiana State University Arena gyms in the mid to late 1970s, a young Doug Shouse knew how to turn heads with his dunks and athletic fast-break moves against college guys and mediocre players like me.
Hughes, News & Views: Oden picks Miami Heat for site of comeback
At 7 feet tall, former Terre Haute resident Greg Oden stands out in almost any crowd.
So to persuade the increasingly healthy Oden to play during the 2013-14 NBA season — for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009 — a team needed to offer something unique to stand out.
Like, say, a chance at a ring.
Enter the Miami Heat, who have won the last two NBA championships behind the “Big Three” of four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Hughes, News & Views: Gladiator Games are back Saturday
When I talk to my old weightlifting buddies around the country on the phone, through texts or on Facebook, we frequently reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”
Imagine that — guys over 50 living in the past.
Anyway, I recently discussed with Jim McCarty — who now lives in Daytona Beach, Fla. — about a “Terre Haute’s Strongest Man” contest he organized in the mid-1980s inside the National Guard Armory on Maple Avenue.
Hughes, News & Views: Lure of big payoffs fuels columnist's fantasy football addiction
Gather around, my friends. I think I may need an intervention.
After winning the championship game of our Tribune-Star newsroom free fantasy football league in 2003 — the first time I ever participated in the popular hobby — I became hooked on dominating as many leagues as possible.
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute ‘hacker' accomplishes Mark’s Par Three first
It’s no secret that Mark’s Par Three is not the most difficult golf course in Vigo County.
But it’s enjoyable for beginners and golfers of modest skill levels and it doesn’t lack for activity during warm-weather months.
Open since 1964, it’s had its fair share of players test their skills, probably several better than 43-year-old Brian Brown of Terre Haute.
Hughes, News & Views: Pacers, 500, NFL on mind of curious columnist
One previous time, I believe, my annual May questions column ran one day late into June.
Can you forgive me for this being the second time?
With apologies out of the way, below are questions that have been taking up valuable space in my head lately.
Some are serious, some not so much. Most are sports-related, but don’t blame me if a few are not. After all, newspaper sportswriters don’t eat, sleep and breathe sports 24/7 (contrary to what my Lisa might tell you).
Here we go:
• How funny will the reaction of the national media be when the Indiana Pacers knock off the unbeatable Miami Heat tonight and Monday to take the series and head to an NBA Finals showdown with the San Antonio Spurs? Hint: Several ESPN “experts” will need to change their underwear next week.
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Hughes, News & Views: Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
DAVID HUGHES: Childhood friends use faith, sports to get them through
When I learned in February 2009 that a rare form of appendix cancer would devastate my life and cause me to miss work for several months, Mike Saylor was among the first to offer assistance.
Book review: Thumbs up for ‘Trophies and Tears’
Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
Hughes, News & Views: Wishing for Colts-Broncos playoff matchup from Santa
There’s plenty of tragedy in the world to bring us down if we let it, so let’s have a light-hearted column today — my annual Christmas gift requests for Santa Claus.
I already know one of my gift wishes is becoming less likely to happen. That would be for the Indianapolis Colts to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs.
Colts' loyalty tested by Manning, Broncos
We’re approaching the halfway point of the NFL season and so far it’s been surprisingly enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure how I would handle following two favorite teams — 1a.) the Indianapolis Colts and 1b.) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos — but the new arrangement hasn’t caused me any loyalty conflicts yet.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Sorting out the sports air waves
My name isn’t attached to them, but I’m the one who usually puts together the “Sports on the air” television/radio listings that appear daily on this newspaper’s Scoreboard Page.
Hughes, News & Views: North junior ready to go racing
When we last visited 16-year-old Rachel Gutish, she was finishing sixth in the Women’s Enduro X race in the nationally televised Summer X Games at Los Angeles.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Yelovich still striking the ball long on LDA Tour
In June 2011, I wrote a feature story about former Indiana State basketball center Mick Yelovich making a name for himself as a golfer on the Long Drivers Association (LDA) Tour.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Colts? Broncos? Maybe there’s more than enough room for both
I’ve got a longtime buddy who I’m fairly sure rarely, if ever, reads this column.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Point of Jones’ return
Since May 14, Indiana high school basketball fans have wondered why Jim Jones would want to come out of retirement at 74.
HUGHES, NEWS & VIEWS: Questions abound for Indy 500, Manning, baseball sectional
Phones are ringing less frequently in the Tribune-Star sports department this week.
Hughes, News & Views: Hutson getting ready for final stretch toward Olympic Trials
If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Rose basketball alumni offer advice to current team
Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
DAVID HUGHES: Super Bowl odds getting stranger and stranger
Today’s annual “Super Bowl odds column” feels special to me because I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since 1967 and next Sunday will be the first time the big game takes place in our great state of Indiana.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Coach’s book a chance to remember North Vermillion state champs
Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Plenty of sports-related gifts for columnist's wish list
Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
Then the 2011 Colts decided to play like the 2009 Colts and clobber the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for their first win of the season. So that present won’t be necessary.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: WTHI defends decision not to show Colts
When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.
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