Roots run deep at the Emo Speedway

By Darren Derendorf
Special to the Times

From the racers to volunteers, racing at the Speedway has been a family affair

From the big leagues of NASCAR and Indy Car to our own little race track there is one thing that ties all forms of racing together, and that’s family. Whether it is the Andrettis making headlines worldwide or the Westovers making them locally family has always been a big part of racing. Many drivers grow up watching their family members race, and want nothing more than to be just like them.

In recent years, the pits at Emo Speedway have begun a makeover of sorts, as some of the drivers who ruled the high banks in years past are now passing the metaphorical and sometimes literal helmet onto their children. As some of the veteran drivers have climbed out of their cars, they have had to start working as just as hard in the pits to help their loved ones succeed. Just like 100 time feature winner Ron Westover, who went from prepping one car for himself to helping prep 3 cars for his 2 children Raice and Jyllian. Whereas other veteran drivers have kept racing as they teach everything they know onto their children, like father Gary Wilson #6 and son Mike #06 who can be found working hard on each other’s cars all week long. Others are teaching in a different way, like Dean Kellar and Sierra Happy who have been sharing driving duties of the #54x until this year where Sierra is now running the car full time. No matter how the family’s race together, you can see true bonds that will never be broken throughout the pits.

One thing that has remained largely the same over the last 20 years are the car numbers on track, a fair amount of the younger generation are honoring their idols, by keeping the numbers alive. Some drivers choose to keep using their father’s numbers, like Brody Strachan in the #99 or Brady Caul in the #50. While other driver’s like to make the number their own like Raice Westover pf the #15R and Garrett Paull #16G who added their first initial to their dad’s numbers. Although there are those who chose to start a new number altogether like Jesse Thompson #3x who picked the number because “third times the charm.”

Racing has more than its share of ups and downs as a competitor, and there’s no one who can understand how you feel better than someone close who’s been through it all. The highs can be lasting memories like when father and daughter Tylar #55 and Libby Wilson #500 finished side by side during the Rea Memorial in 2015.With the triumphs there can also be struggle, that I as a competitor know all too well. As the driver of the #80 Emo Street Stock, I have been plagued with mechanical issues, some of my own creating, but there’s no one better to greet you as you’re pushed into the pits with a broken car than your dad asking what happened and ready to get to work and try to fix it.

Some family members are helping out at the track without ever touching the race cars, they help out by keeping the track operational. Our whole volunteer base comes from hard working fans and family members who not only want to see racing every Saturday night, but want to see their loved ones live out their dreams. Some volunteers manage to get a better seat than others like Vern Thompson, grandfather to Jesse Thompson #3x, who for years had the best seat in the house as a flag man. Other volunteers can be found doing the hard work like Tammy and Alyssa Strachan, relatives of #99 Brody Strachan, who spend their evening at the races counting laps for the field of drivers, and as President and Vice-President, make sure everything else is running smoothly every week. Other volunteers have the most important job, feeding everyone at the race track. The pit canteen gets a little help from all the teams racing, whereas Corey O’Neill, mother of Cameron Brown in the #4jr, makes sure then fans are well looked after every week.

Emo Speedway will be back in action this Saturday Aug.7 with Hot Laps at 7pm and racing at 7:30pm! With 7 nights of racing packed into the next 5 short weeks you know the drivers will be battling for every point available! Thank you to all the fans, sponsors and volunteers because you make everything at the speedway possible. Hope to see everyone this Saturday night!

Emo Speedway Schedule

Aug. 7 – Saturday Night Racing
Aug. 14 – Saturday Night Racing
Aug.20 – Rea Memorial – Night 1
Aug.21 – Rea Memorial – Night 2
Aug.28 – Saturday Night Racing
Sept.4 – Race for the Fallen – Night 1
Sept.5 – Race for the Fallen – Night 2