Racing is a passion that is often handed down from generation to generation. Often, a son or daughter will learn the tricks of the trade from his/her father before establishing their own career in the sport. On this Father’s Day, we caught up with a handful of short track racers to find out their favorite memories with their fathers.
Southeast Late Model driver Haley Moody's father Jerry was a prominent car owner and owned Matt McCall's UARA Championship winning car before passing away in 2013. Haley explained how her favorite memory with her dad was their last one at a track together.
"My favorite would probably be my win at Myrtle Beach. I know he wasn't doing well at all but to be able to win at the last race ever was really special to me,” Moody told Speed51.com powered by JEGS “We all shared a moment of silence in victory lane and I know in my heart he knew what was going on and he was super proud of me and the whole team.”
One of the most prominent father-son racing combination in the Northeast over the last few decades has been the Rowe family. Father Mike and son Ben have combined for 61 PASS North victories, five PASS North championships and five Oxford 250 victories.
On May 9, 2015 at Star Speedway (NH), the two had one of the most spirited battles since they started racing each other. For Ben, that is the memory that sticks out most in all his time being involved in racing with his father.
“Probably the biggest memory in recent history is a few years ago the race at Star Speedway,” Rowe stated. “I was clearly the better car battling him for the lead for the last forty laps and there was no way he was letting me by. He ended up winning.”
Billy Pauch, Jr. still races with his father, Billy Pauch Sr in Big-Block Dirt Modifieds, and says his favorite moments are the occasions they compete against each other for wins.
“One of my favorite moments racing with my dad is the times that we ran first and second on the track, there is something special about that no matter who finishes ahead of who.”
C.E Falk III is the latest in the Falk racing family, his father, Eddie is a former NASCAR XFINITY Series and ARCA owner. C.E surprised his parents last season with a wrap in tribute to the schemes his father used in the XFINITY Series.
“Last year was definitely special, my brother and I put a lot of effort and late nights after work to get that wrap just right and keeping it a secret from our parents. It was great to see his reaction for all the years of hard work and time he has put into our racing,” Falk said. “Setting on the pole and winning the race was just icing on the cake on a great weekend for our family, to see that car designed like it was to go around South Boston again was something we will all never forget.”
Brandon Setzer, whose father Dennis was an 18-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has shared many moments with his father at the race track.
“My favorite memory is my first Super Late Model win. My dad had worked so hard to get me in Victory Lane and to have him there for my first win was awesome. It was so cool to see how excited and proud he was in victory lane.”
Jan Evans, the son of Northwest racing legend Garrett Evans, has shared my memories racing with his father in recent years. However, it was a piece of advice handed down from father to son that sticks out the most for the younger Evans.
“I think my favorite racing memory with Dad would be when I was at the Oak Wood Arena with him and it was my second race ever in a quarter midget on dirt,” Evans began. “He was my crew chief and I started in the C-Main went to the B-Main and then to the A. I was in second place when the red flag came out with I think five laps to go. He came on the track because the dads could at the time and told me to pull a slingshot on the guy in front of me. It took a second for him to explain that to me because I was five or six. So, I pulled a slingshot, passed the car in front of me and went on to win the race.”
TJ Brackett is another driver who has followed in his footsteps of his father competing in the Super Late Model division at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). Throughout the past decade, the two have competed together in the premier Late Model division at Oxford with daughter Vanna also joining in on the fun at times.
While a night in 2015 in which all three Bracketts finished on the podium sticks out to TJ, his favorite memories are the ones that were made in their old race shop located in Oxford, Maine.
"Probably my favorite memories are when I was a little kid just wanting to be like him," Brackett said. "As soon as I was old enough that they let me in the garage I wanted to be in there cleaning wheels or whatever. It was so cool, I just wanted to be like him. Now we're both winning races and championships, so that's kind of cool."
Christian Eckes, the 2016 Snowball Derby winner, has also shared many memories with his father in racing including that Snowball Derby win last December. Eckes looked back on one memory that he had with his father at a young age.
“Definitely after my first Bandolero win in 2012. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy in my life,” Eckes said. “We had a rough time when I first started racing getting me used to everything because I had no background in racing as well as figuring out the car. To finally be able to pull off a win was a huge uplift for everybody and was just really cool. He was really excited.
Max Zachem, a competitor on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, shares a close relationship with his father as a small, family-owned race team.
“My dad is not just my father, he’s my brother,” Zachem stated. “We travel everywhere, we started at ‘Little T’ in Thompson in 2000 and we’re into our seventeenth year of racing. It’s amazing to think we’ve gone up and down the East Coast, gone all the way to Indiana, I wouldn’t be anywhere in racing without him.”
Another NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor, Matt Swanson, credits his father for getting him into the sport.
“He’s been around since the Busch North days and prior to that. He got me into it when I was just a little kid,” Swanson said. “We went Pro Stock racing with G.G. Gravel, Louie Mechalides and a bunch of other guys. I’ve been around it a long time, I was able to celebrate my first birthday at New Smyrna Speedway for Speedweeks. He got me my own quarter-midget in 2008 when I was eight years old and it’s only escalated from there. He’s the reason it’s gone where it is and he taught me about three-quarters of the things I know today. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I’d be, I’m so thankful to have a father like him that brought me into such a cool sport.”
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. is another driver who has shared a countless number of memories in racing with his father Joe, Sr. Although Joe doesn’t race with Joey, they share a very important relationship at the track with Dad playing the role of “eye in the sky” as the spotter for his son.
“Hearing him on the radio the year we won the Oxford 250 will always stick out to me,” Joey Pole explained. “That race is such a big deal and hearing him stay so calm and knowing how excited he must have been was really awesome. Then to hear his excitement coming to the checkered flag was something I'll never forget.
“Another good memory was when I was younger racing quarter midgets he always used to think I rode the brake, so he disconnected the brakes for the feature and we won, but I didn't know that he disconnected them obviously and I came off the track full bore and crashed into everybody on the track exit ramp. That's a memory I'll never forget either. Without him nothing we've accomplished would be possible. Hopefully we make a lot more memories!”
Ryan Preece and his father Jeff also share a close relationship through racing. The two work hand-in-hand with each other at the race shop to prepare race-winning Modifieds.
“I’m lucky to have a father who has extremely good work ethic. If something can be done, he’s going to do it, that’s what he’s taught me to do and I’m thankful for that. He hasn’t paid his way for everything,” Preece commented.
“It may not be my father’s car or our family car; it’s Eddie and Connie’s car, but it’s me and my father doing it together, working together and winning. There’s not much you can describe of it because a lot of people don’t really get to experience that, where you’re actually doing it with your father. You’re setting it up, you’re maintaining it, you’re doing all the hard work and not just showing up with a helmet.”
-Text by Speed51.com Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51.com