Jay Frye has done a great job of charting a course for IndyCar and it appears that gene runs in the family, because his wife is having the same success in USAC.
Since becoming the president of USAC’S quarter midget circuit, known as the USAC Point 2.5 Series, Danielle Frye has found a title sponsor, connected today’s stars with tomorrow’s and watched the entry list expand. So how and why did this mother of two daughters land this gig?
“I was pulling my air out just sitting around because I’ve always been busy,” replied the longtime NASCAR publicist who worked with Bill Elliott and Dale Jarrett in the ‘90s before moving to the NASCAR PR department and then MRN radio. “Jay was talking with Kevin Miller (USAC president) and mentioned my background, so I met with him and he created a position.
“It was community engagement for all of USAC, but after Jerry Coons Jr. retired I just took over the quarter midgets.”
Frye used her experience to land Cookout as a title sponsor and her family connections to host a quarter midget extravaganza at the Speedway this past summer.
“Cookout is a fast food restaurant on the East Coast and the son (Max Reaves) of the founder (Jeremy Reaves) races with us, so they came on board this season and it’s been great,” she continued. “We had over 300 entries at the Speedway, and Mario [Andretti] was our grand marshal.”
Since quarter midgets were the start for open-wheel stars like Pancho Carter, Sleepy Tripp, Johnny Parsons, Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher and NASCAR champs like Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, Frye has done her best to keep everyone engaged.
“Kyle Busch, Chase (Elliott), Ryan Blaney, Hinch (James Hinchcliffe), (Alexander) Rossi, and Josef (Newgarden) have all come by our races to watch and meet the kids, and that’s been well-received,” said Frye. “Zeb Wise was just in quarter midgets a few years ago and he’s won two of the biggest USAC midget races at IMS, and Justin Haley (Daytona winner in July) came out of quarter midgets as well.
“We kicked off the season at Daytona with 360 entries from all over the country and interest is growing. I get three or four emails a week from track owners wanting to entertain a quarter midget event.”
The pavement series runs parking lot circuits at Daytona, Charlotte, Darlington and Las Vegas while partnering with IndyCar at COTA. This weekend they’ll be sharing dirt with USAC’s 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora, and they’ve also added Terre Haute.
“The number of clubs USAC has had across the country has grown from 33 to 45 permanent tracks and kids can race every weekend at national, regional and local events,” said Frye. “They can start at age five and go until they’re 16 if they pass the weight requirement. It was the beginning for a lot of guys who made it big and is still can be, but mostly it’s great competition.”