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wka officials

Get to Know WKA Team Member: David Coates

PORTAGE, IN - If you didn't know David Coates and I had to describe him to you using only three words; energetic, positive and passionate would immediately come to mind.  David is absolutely on fire for working WKA Manufacturer's Cup races, not to mention all the other cool hobbies he participates in like playing percussion in a band, photography, and hiking to name a few.  David raced for 12 years and continues to hold the same enthusiasm for karting as he had when he was racing in his younger years.  If you ever come across David at the races, he is easy to spot because he always has a huge smile and kind words to say to all the drivers.  Read more about David below in his interview:

How many years have you been in the racing world (Either a racer, fan, working for a racing organization)?

"Getting close to 50 years that I have loved the sport of racing. My passion for racing began at an early age, [probably around 4 or 5 years old] My dad would take us to Illiana Motor Speedway, one of the Midwest premier paved half mile ovals. The love for the smell of race fuel, rear end grease, hot brakes, burnt rubber and peanuts will forever be etched in my mind. Saturday nights were always the best when we were “going to the track!"

Have you ever raced? If so, what and for how long?

"I raced for 12 years at Club Level at MRP [Michiana Raceway Park] in South Bend Indiana from 1992-2004. I also ran in all four Portage IN. GP’s and all three South Bend Regional Airport GP’s. I ran Yamaha Pipe and HPV 4- Pipe my entire career. I met a lot of great people during those days that I still call friends today."

What made you want to work for the WKA?

"I had worked multiple WKA events at MRP [as an MRP employee] and really liked the camaraderie I saw in the WKA staff. Dennis Long, a long time flagman for WKAand multiple other series, took me under his guidance when it came to flagging races knowing I was very interested in his position, and led me to Buddy Long. The rest is history. Buddy, as well as the entire WKA organization have welcomed not only me, but my son [Alec] to my multiple positions with the Man Cup Series which I am grateful for."

What does a day in the life of you look like at the WKA office?

"Well I am not in the WKA office, LOL but a day in the life of me can have a lot of variables! I live my life on “10”! I have multiple hobbies….I am a musician and play percussion every chance I get weather it is in my shop or with a band. I love Photography, I cannot get enough camping in, in a season, I love the beach, sunset’s and hiking. My wife and I enjoy working in our yard. And more important than anything, I have a beautiful wife, three amazing kids and two totally awesome grandkids [that are into all kinds of fun stuff] that I enjoy more than anything previously mentioned! Life is GREAT, just crazy busy."

What is your favorite racing series to watch?

"Well I would think the appropriate answer would be the WKA! ;-) But since I can’t watch it for the enjoyment of it all, I will have to go to series “B”, I LOVE USAC SPRINTS AND MIDGETS as well as INDY CAR!! Saturday night short track, Late Models and Modified’s……….Well, it don’t get better than that either!!!"

What do you enjoy most about WKA races?

"The family atmosphere. Not only amongst our officiating team, but I am a “people person”, and the relationships that I have, and continue built around the paddock with not only the racers,  but the families makes the long days and weekends on your feet worth it!"

Which race has been your most memorable so far, and why?

"2016 Man Cup at New Castle. Three 100 degree days in a row set a president for any and all races to follow!! Makes all of the others a cake walk! That was nothing short of BRUTAL!!"

 Is there anything else you’d like to share?

"I would just like to thank Buddy Long and the entire WKA Organization for not only believing in me, but also for allowing my son to be a part of this Great Series. Being able to enjoy and share a passion for racing as a national race official with my son……Well work cannot describe! VERY BLESSED, AND VERY APPRECIATIVE FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY!! THANK YOU!"

Get To Know WKA Team Member: Erik Graham

JACKSON, NJ- If you race in the WKA Manufacturer's Cup but you have never had the joy of meeting one of our officials, Erik Graham, you are definitely missing out.  Erik is not only an official, but a racer who has experience in driving legends cars, factory stock cars and karts.  He has a great sense of humor and is not afraid to join in on jokes with our younger racers. More than anything, he enjoys being apart of developing the future race car drivers of the world. Read more about Erik in his interview below:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

"I am from Jackson, NJ. If you draw a line between New York City and Philadelphia you will find Jackson in the middle."

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HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE RACING WORLD? 

"Pretty much my whole life. My first memories are of my home track (Wall Stadium) and racing. When I was a child my Uncle ran in the Demo Derbies that were a very big deal back then. So my Saturday's were spent with my Grandmother at the races and my Sunday's would involve my whole family supporting my Uncle." 

HAVE YOU EVER RACED? IF NOT, WHAT SPORTS OR HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY?

"Yes! I actually started out in karts at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. After doing that for a few seasons I was able to accomplish a life long dream and race stock cars (Legends and Factory Stocks) at Wall Stadium. After racing for a while I became a Karting official, then a Stock Car official. I'll get more into how that came to be later. As far as other sports, growing up the son of a sports writer I love pretty much all stick and ball sports. My favorite sports team is the Philadelphia Eagles."

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THE WKA? 

"Once I left karting to race stock cars I found myself at the kart track on Sundays anyway. You meet so many amazing people in karting I couldn't stay away. One day on a whim I asked John Ferris (Race Director / Promoter at Englishtown) if he needed any help on the track. He gave me my first opportunity as a race official and I fell in love with it. Having many years in management under my belt after a season I was directing club races. Later on, I was asked to direct the New Jersey Sprint Series. I also became the Assistant Race Director at Wall Stadium after I retired from behind the wheel in 2013. In early 2016 I was given the honor of becoming a co-director for the WKA Manufacturers Cup. It's amazing how many great people I've met and places I have been thanks to the WKA. I couldn't ask for a better organization to work for."

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RACING SERIES TO WATCH? 

"Working with NASCAR style modifieds, weekly of course I love the NASCAR Modified Tour. A few of our weekly competitors actually race on the tour so it's fun to watch them on TV. As far as road racing goes I love the Supercars Championship in Australia. Their races are amazing, if you have never watched I highly recommend it."

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WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WKA RACES?

"The people by far. Getting to see the country is great but the people you meet through the WKA are amazing. It's also a wonderful and humbling feeling to know I am a small part in developing the future race car drivers in the world." 

WHICH RACE HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE SO FAR?

"This has a two part answer. 

As a driver, my most memorable race was getting to race in front of my Grandmother. She wasn't doing too well when I started racing. Somehow she was up to coming to see me race one day and my Uncle was able to get her there. I was so emotional knowing she was there I actually got into a wreck. 

As an official, I think this is an easy one. By far getting to Officiate a race in Daytona was a life changing experience for me. Plus having my Cousin Sam (also a WKA official) there was the icing on the cake. It's crazy how far I've come after just asking John if he wanted some help at the track one day. I can't thank the WKA enough for the opportunity."