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Auto Racing: Florida driver increases level of competition in late models

Sunday, April 30, 2000

By Chris Dolack, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Pete Orr might be new to the Western Pennsylvania racing scene this year, but he comes to Motordrome and Jennerstown with an impressive amount of experience gained from racing in Florida, which he stills calls home.

 
 

Chris Dolack can be reached at cdolack@post-gazette.com.

   
 

Orr, 43, drives the No. 30 Chevrolet owned by fellow late-model driver Neil Brown. Friday night at Motordrome, Orr ran with the leaders all race, finishing third behind Mark Cottone and Richard Mitchell, the defending Northeast Region champion. His 132 points after three top-10 finishes at Motordrome puts him third behind Mitchell (148) and Cottone (146).

"Those guys have the home-turf advantage," Orr said after Friday night's race. "We feel like we're improving every week. This race team works real hard, and we're going to continue on and keep moving forward."

Orr's credentials are impressive. He got his start as a kid in go-karts and worked his way up through the lower divisions to super late models. He has raced in the Busch Grand National Series at places like Daytona and Charlotte. In his career, he has won more than 300 races, including two victories in the Governor's Cup, Florida's prestigious short track race.

"He brings experience to the table to help both those teams," Mitchell said. "From what I can see, he's going to be tough down at the end. Once he gets this place figured out, he's going to be there."

But after all that success in the Southeast, why switch to Pittsburgh?

"I came up last summer and visited Neil," Orr said. "I attended four races, two at Motordrome and two at Jennerstown and I saw quality cars and good car counts and Motordrome had a good amount of people in the grandstands so it looks like the management is certainly doing their job.

"My purpose for being here is to help Neil Brown and his race team get to the next level," Orr said. "They've got good equipment, and we're just working hard trying to get all the cars standardized and get some organizational things and start working on the competition because it is tough here."

"I met Pete a year ago," said Brown, in his fourth year of late-model racing. "We just developed a friendship.

"He's never run restrictor-plated motors like these cars before so it's a learning curve for him. But everywhere he's raced he's won a lot of races."

Once Orr gets the cars handling he'll deal with the competition. In the opener at Motordrome, Orr put his experience on display when started in the back half of the field but methodically weaved his way to a sixth-place finish and earned the Hard Charger Award.

"Richard Mitchell stands out from the crowd here in my opinion," Orr said of the competitors. "A lot of places I've been there seems to be a Richard Mitchell that you always have to race against. For years, in the early '90s, I was the Richard Mitchell of Orlando and New Smyrna so I've got a lot of experience and I know what it's like to be in his position and what it's like trying to get there.

"There seems to be more cars here that I feel are capable of winning each and every Friday night than what I've seen at other places."

Orr realizes NASCAR Winston Cup racing isn't in his future, but he does have a plan.

"At my age, the big picture is that I don't really have a future as far as being a Winston Cup or Busch driver," Orr said.

"I got to go when I was 39, and in my opinion it was 10 years too late because you've got a learning curve once you get there."

So Orr, who has extensive knowledge of chassis and setups, plans to create a racing school.

"I've been involved in a couple of different racing schools in the past and I'm going to develop my own racing school while I'm up here," Orr said. "We plan to launch that in September. We're going to call it Pete Orr's Winner's Circle Racing School."

No doubt it will be a success, too.



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