Contributed by: ACT Staff
Unbuckled: Getting To Know Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
Driver of the #27 E-Keys 4 Cars Ford
Hometown: Dover, NH
2012: Earned his first American Canadian Tour Championship
What are your favorite hobbies in the off-season?
I’m not sure I have any real hobbies; it’s a full-time job working in the garage. As a big family thing, we like to go out and try new random places to eat; stuff that’s way off the mark and just pretty different throughout New England. My job and racing bring me to a lot of different places, and many times we’ll just take off and try new stuff. I think you can find a lot of good places like that.
What do you do for work?
I am a fire-sprinkler system installer for Mammoth Fire Protection. This is the only job I’ve ever had. I’ve been working here since 1993, so about 20 years.
What is your biggest life accomplishment?The things I’m most proud of are my three daughters. I was extremely young when I had my first daughter, I think I was 15 when the girl was pregnant, so that was a real life lesson. My daughter and I practically grew up together. There were a lot of things to learn as she grew and now that my daughters are almost adults, they are not only my children but really good friends as well. I never understood when my parents said the same thing about me, but now I do. They were young parents, too.
Big Plans for 2013?
Run the US Tour, Run the Castrol Tour, Run the Small Block Super at Lee USA on Fridays, make some appearances at Canaan and maybe some races down at Thompson.
What is the state of your car currently?
Two Late Models have been 100% done for about a month now, and we have another one that we just finished last night.
What race are you looking forward to the most in 2013?
To be honest getting to Lee and getting things started, but from there I’m really looking forward to getting to Star Speedway. We haven’t raced there in quite some time, and I think the race is going to be an unbelievable show. All the racing I’ve been able to do over there has been great side-by-side racing. I think we’ll have a good show over there.
What was the highlight of the 2012 season for you?
The entire season. For starters winning our first ACT race at Devil’s Bowl, and then the continuation. We seemed to get on a roll there and it seemed like we won every weekend all summer long whether at Canaan or ACT or wherever else . It will never be duplicated, and never forgotten.
Do you have a hero? Someone you idolize as a racecar driver or try to emulate?
I had always looked up to my Dad in racing. He was the main reason I got into it, and I looked up to him. He started racing in the early ‘80s over a bet with a friend in town. They were both into cars and one was racing at Hudson and my Dad was just into supped up cars and said he would race the kid and beat him. I went out a couple mornings later to find that my swing set was a gone, and discovered it was his new roll cage for his new racecar. We didn’t come from a family of racers, so he earned everything on his own, and I have a lot of respect for that. I definitely got a leg up because of his knowledge. It should also be known that he never replaced my swing set!
Who is your biggest fan at the track?
I would say it’s my Mother and my Wife. My Mother tries to attend all the races, always has throughout my career. I don’t care how old I get, I still like to have my Mom there. You’re never too old for that, its some sense of security or whatever it is. It’s nice to have your family with you all the time, and the same goes for my Wife. I have so much respect for her dragging the kids everywhere, and she never complains except for one annual meltdown!
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I raced for Joe Polewarczyk, and little Joey had to have been around 9 or 10 years old. Joe Pole’s shop used to be right next to my father’s shop. They had a Street Stock and he asked if I would be interested in driving it in Oktoberfest at Lee Speedway and he also had his own Late Model there. We set the cars up went to the track and the Street Stock blew the motor in practice. He felt bad, and offered me his Late Model to drive. We finished second in the race that day, but side-by-side for the win, and he had such a good time that’s when he stopped driving and became a car owner. In that time little Joey started racing at Londonderry Speedway in the quarter midgets.
How did you start racing?
Going to watch my Dad every weekend was a big influence, but my actual first race was in 1984 at Hudson Speedway. They used to have a “Big Wheel” race where they would line up all the kids on the start finish line and they would race on their big wheels around a tractor-trailer tire. I was doing really well until we got to turn one and I spun around the tire and didn’t win. The following week I did it again, but with duct tape on my wheels so I wouldn’t spin. I didn’t win, but I didn’t finish last, so it was great.
Tell me about your family?
My Wife Jill is a nurse at a hospital. My oldest daughter is Britany, she is 18 and graduating from high school, and is following her Mom’s footsteps and going to college for nursing. Elizabeth is 16, and is actually very interested in racing. She loves it as a fan, helps in the garage during the week, and just in the last year or so has made it clear she wants to race herself. I keep telling her she has to graduate first, it’s too late in high school, and if we start now you’ll lose interest in school and it will be just racing. I also have another daughter Brooke who is six.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I think one of our goals for Bruce (Car Owner Bruce Bernhardt) and I is we would love to build a Prostock so we could go touring through the country and get to race some of the big races we always hear about. Just to have the car to tour the country with is a big bucket list thing for us, and I hope in 5 years we are gearing towards doing that. We have also been talking about opening up our own fabrication shop and building race chassis, so that might be in the works then.
What is your favorite racetrack and why?
My favorite racetrack is Wall Stadium in Wall Township, NJ. Someone asked me to drive a tour-type modified back in 2004 I think, in a race they called the Turkey Derby on Thanksgiving. The track itself has extremely high banking and is really tight. It’s a big bowl. Racing there side by side means one car is at the infield and the other is at the wall so the racing was unbelievable. Plus the crowds were huge, and really into everything going on. We’ve been there with our Late Model and had equally as much fun. I would hope sometime in the future maybe we could get an ACT Tour race there.
If you had to put another driver into your car, who would it be and why?It would probably be Brian Hoar. He obviously gets the big picture of looking beyond his bumper, saving his equipment, and being able to position himself throughout the race for the win at any track that he goes to.