Last night Bob and I went back to Sunset Speedway to hang out in the pits with Jared and his family. My friends Alice and Beth, along with Beth’s grandson, Terrence, sat in the stands and helped the announcer raffle off a copy of Running Wide Open, which was autographed by both myself and Jared. I was a little afraid that the kids who entered the drawing were just there for the free Cracker Jacks being given away, but the girl who won had a big smile on her face and was hugging my book like a devoted reader.
Did any of you Portland folks see the write-up in the Oregonian about the track this week? Here’s a link for those of you who missed it. It’s so nice to see local papers including this kind of story. We had a heck of a time getting any press when I was competing at Eugene Speedway.
Racing is a family affair for Jared and his relatives, and you can find much of their extended family in the pits on Saturday nights, either racing or helping out. Grandpa Mike and brother Jared compete in the Pure Stock class, while Cari, the boys’ mom, cheers her sons on and tries to keep up with their appetite for speedway burgers. Grandma Maxcie (a former racer, herself ) keeps track of qualifying times and sponsorship. She did an awesome job with the logo. Let me tell you, it’s a thrill seeing the title of my book on the side of a race car.
Older brother Jacob, who’s been racing at Sunset Speedway since he was twelve, does an excellent job of coaching Jared before the races. Last night Jacob won his trophy dash, came in second in his main, and barely missed winning his heat in a photo finish. The Salem Statesman Journal ran this story about him.
One thing that takes me straight back to my racing days at Eugene is hearing the National Anthem at a speedway. Here, as at many tracks, they have a driver carry the flag while the music is playing.
Some people might think racing is dangerous, but every safety precaution is taken. As you can see, Jared has a helmet, firesuit, neck brace, and window net to keep him safe. One thing I really like about the Tracer (Teen Racer) class is that it gives kids driving experience in a controlled environment. When Jared gets his learner’s permit in a few years, he’ll be able to fully concentrate on learning the rules of the road and paying attention to traffic, rather than having to learn how to handle a car at the same time. And lest you think allowing a kid to race makes them aggressive, you couldn’t be more wrong. Having an outlet for that competitive edge and need for speed tends to keep them from being lead-footed on the streets.
One thing that truly impressed me about Jared and his brother is that they are so polite, friendly, and confident. Mom, Cari, and dad, Sam, did a great job raising these guys.
Even though this is Jared’s first season in a full-sized car, he’s had plenty of racing experience. Both he and his brother have competed in quads and quarter midgets. Maybe that’s what gives him his confidence.
I had a wonderful time last night, and I feel blessed to have met such a great family. It’s people like this who inspired my books. I feel honored to be sponsoring Jared.