(July 19, 2016) Stratford, Wisconsin — For more than 25 years, Chip Ganassi and his Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) have identified and developed some of the best young racing talent from all around the world. Late last year, in pursuit a formal method of both identifying and assisting North America’s top up and coming race car drivers, Ganassi and CGRT announced the creation of the Generation Ganassi (Gen G) program.
Last week, the program announced its lineup of seven drivers, chosen from a field of over 100 applicants spanning a wide array of racing series and divisions, including karting, sprint cars, modified, midgets and late models. Fifteen-year-old Derek Kraus, from Stratford, Wisconsin, is honored to be one of those drivers.
“I was speechless when I found out I was named to the Gen G class of 2016,” Derek stated. “It is such an honor to know the Ganassi team took the time to look through all the applicants and choose me as one of the drivers in the first full year of the program. To be affiliated with a team the caliber of Chip Ganassi Racing is very exciting!”
Derek’s racing career began at the age of seven in go-karts. He has since competed in Bandoleros, pro trucks and super late models. He made headlines late last year as the youngest driver in the Snowball Derby, after making the field for the marquee 300-lap super late model race on his qualifying time. Among his other recent career highlights are winning the 2015 Midwest Truck Series Championship as well as the 2015 Rookie of the Year in the American Ethanol SuperTruck Series. He has also earned a pair of super late model race wins, at Marshfield Motor Speedway (2015) and State Park Speedway (2016), and was the 2015 Rookie of the Year at State Park Speedway in his late model.
This year, Derek’s racing schedule includes the full ARCA Midwest Tour schedule, the full schedule of super late model races at State Park Speedway, and a select schedule of additional events. Derek will end the year with two of the most prestigious late model events in the country, the Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna Speedway in November and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in December.
The Gen G program was designed to help guide young drivers through the turbulent waters of auto racing. According to CGRT, the ‘Gen G’ title refers to the young race car driver that aspires to take racing from simply a passion to a profession. This definition aligns well with Derek’s plans for the future.
“My goal is to compete and win in the top levels of NASCAR competition,” Derek commented. “Being a part of the Gen G program gives me a big boost in reaching that goal. I’m looking forward to working with CGRT, developing new marketing partners, and strengtheningmy relationships with my current marketing partners as I advance in my career.”
Derek’s current marketing partners include Seubert Calf Ranches Inc., B & K Trucking, AllStar Performance, Champion, Davel’s One Stop, Stratford Sign Company, Kuyoth Body & Custom, R & J Auto Repair, Frog Racing, Fanetti Inc. and Schlewitz Enterpises. He relies on Performance Marketing Group for marketing, career path management and public relations support.
“Being a part of the Gen G class of 2016 is the latest of several great opportunities that have come about for me since teaming up with Performance Marketing Group,” Derek says. “I am really excited for what the future holds!”
Credit: Richard Slifkin