A real family affair each week at Emo Speedway

Is there any better way to bond with family members than to strap yourself into opposing race cars and battle one another to the finish?
I can think of a few, maybe, but the emotional highs and lows of racing seems to bond families closer together—and the field at the Emo Speedway certainly can attest to that.
A look down the starting list on your average Saturday race lineup shows a lot of duplicates in the last names department, and many of those names have a rich history at the track that first opened for racing 55 years ago.
That current list includes father/son duos of Richard and Anthony Visser, Gary and Mike Wilson, Dennis and Dwayne Pelepetz, Larry and Brad Loveday, and Jeff and Tyler Wickstrom.
Father/daughter teams of John and Carlee Bosma, along with Tylar and Liberty Wilson, are new additions to the circuit while sibling pairs, like Roy and Ron Korpi, Tom and Linda Jackson, and Char Nicolson and Chris Shine, also have raced together and against one another.
“It seems that when there has been a family involved in racing for a long period of time, it continues over time,” Borderland Racing Association president Anthony Leek explained.
“The families tend to make it all happen in the end and that is why we promote racing as family entertainment.
“The community has been built over decades and it continues to bond everyone together week in and week out,” Leek added.
Gary Wilson first took up the sport when his dad got him into it in 1970, and now Gary’s son, Mike, has followed in his
own footsteps.
“My dad’s been gone a long time, but he got me into racing when I was young and I’ve been at it since I was 14 to 15 years old,” the elder Wilson explained. “My son grew up in it, got started here a couple years ago, and he’ll be 19 in August.”
So what has kept the Wilsons glued to the sport over that many years?
“I don’t know what it is, you just get hooked on it and have to do it all the time,” Wilson remarked. “You start at it and then stay at it, maybe for the competition. There’s nothing like the roar of the engine and the feel of the horsepower under you.
“My young feller [Mike] doesn’t play hockey or anything like that. His sport is racing, and it gets in your blood,” he stressed.
Wilson said preparing for the races is a good way to bond with his son.
“We work on the cars, and in fact they are our own built cars,” he noted. “[Mike is] running one that I built in 1985 and I built mine in ’95.
“It’s something we have in common. He’s a gear head and likes to work in the shop on things. It’s a good thing,” Wilson stressed.
“I might not see him during the weekends after the racing, off with his girlfriend or whatever, but [Monday] morning he was already planning what he was going to have to do for the next week, so it keeps him focused.”
Wilson said racing is a good outlet and hobby for a teenager—stressing hard work and commitment.
“There might be three or four of his friends out there with him in the shop discussing something or working on something, and I know where they are at and they aren’t out doing something they shouldn’t be doing,” Wilson reasoned.
“Too much stuff out there that they can get into, so it’s good they have racing to keep them occupied.”
Wilson struggled in the opening week on the Modifieds circuit due to a flat tire while his son finished in the middle of the pack in the Midwest Modifieds division.
“We don’t get too serious, we just have fun at it,” he added, though admitting the pair don’t always agree on racing-related topics.
“We have our arguments all the time, just trying to get things going,” he noted. “He’s young and trying to get concentrated on it is the main thing.
“You’ve gotta be ready when they drop the green flag. It’s just like the green light in town,” Wilson said. “When that light turns green, you better go or you are going to get some verbal abuse or maybe sign language coming your way.
“It’s the same in racing.”
The influx of youth on the local circuit bodes well for the future, with 13 drivers in last week’s lineup under 30 years of age—and nine of those under 20.
“Dirt track racing can be very fun and especially addictive to the drivers, so you need to have a tightly-knit family and community in order to tolerate the racing bug,” Leek said.
“It also doesn’t take much to get hooked onto racing, and it tends to draw the whole family in.
“It’s hard to explain, but it’s a great thing to see the torch of racing being passed down generation to generation,” Leek added.

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