Birthday can’t keep young racer from track

    Young Devlin native Matt Mutz turned 16 Saturday night and while others might be thinking about getting their drivers license on such a day, that’s not quite his speed.
    Mutz spent his “Sweet Sixteen” at the Emo Speedway, racing his 95 car in the Midwest modified feature. If it sounds like the pits to spend the night away from a party and in, well, the pits, Mutz doesn’t know it.
    “I’d choose racing over anything. I’ve always loved racing ever since I can remember, really,” he said.
    But a boy’s birthday comes but once a year. Wouldn’t his friends and family be surprised that he wouldn’t even take just one night off?
    “This is one of the only things I talk about,” he said. “If I wasn’t here today, they’d be surprised.”
    It’s a credit to Mutz’ dedication to dirt track racing that when he booked his Saturday off from his job as a camp counsellor, he did it with the track and a grandstand full of fans in mind instead of cake and ice cream. And while it’s an exceptional choice to be made—especially for his age—it’s one locals make regularly.
    Rarely does a fishing tournament in the region go by without the emcee congratulating an angler for coming out on his birthday—CBC Radio’s Gord Ellis celebrated his 45th on Rainy Lake during the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship just a few weeks back.
    A look at any league soccer or baseball game will yield a number of athletes who have had to make and break plans to make it out to the game.
    And, in a few weeks when a new school year begins, there will be dozens of Muskies who put just about everything in their life on the backburner —birthdays included—to dedicate themselves to their teams.
    It’s that kind of devotion to a pastime that separates a passion from a hobby. It’s something that we as fans and fellow teammates can take for granted.
    Unfortunately, there was one myth that Mutz disproved Saturday night—the notion of birthday luck. He had a rough time in his heat and dropped out, and spun out during his comeback bid in the feature, settling for 13th place.
    He smiled and admitted he was looking to his 16th to bring some good fortune to his racing. “I was hoping so, ‘cause the last four weeks . . . it’s been bad luck,” he said.
    Better luck next time, Matt. And, of course, happy birthday.

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