Shootout a Family Affair for Abbeys
Racing's history is rich with stories of generational dynasties built by names such as Earnhardt, Petty, Allison and Andretti. Likewise, equally abundant are tales of hometown heroes who skipped their senior proms to battle for glory and parts money at local short tracks.
As Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the 13th annual Summer Shootout Series, two brothers from Texas have given up the normal teenage summer in hopes of one day making their family name the topic of household racing discussions.
"I have learned that doing what I love, which is racing, takes a lot of time," said 14-year-old Steven Abbey. "It causes me not to be able to go to the lake or just hang out with friends. But, the time spent is still well worth missing other activities in life."
Hailing from the small town of Comanche, Texas, Steven Abbey and his 15-year-old brother Dean are participating in the Peach Auto Body Legends Car Pro division, the headline class of the Summer Shootout Series.
The two youngsters and their family made the trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway for one race last summer and, based on that experience, decided the next step in their racing careers meant making the commitment to compete in the entire 2006 Summer Shootout schedule.
"We're here to compete and have fun," said Dean Abbey, the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Bilstein Madonna Award recognizing excellence in racing. "But we're also here to try and get noticed by some people at the upper levels of the sport."
The drive from Concord, N.C., to Comanche, Texas, located roughly 100 miles outside of Fort Worth, can run upward of 16 hours. Fortunately for the Abbey family, they have been able to make air travel part of their schedule.
"We flew in on Friday night, and we'll fly out Wednesday morning," Dean Abbey said during a recent Tuesday night event. "But while we're here, we're supposed to be talking with a guy about possibly staying in a condo."
The story of Abbey Racing doesn't begin with this pair of Texas teens. They are actually following in the tire tracks of their father, Randy, who now works as a veterinarian.
"Our dad started out racing hot stocks on the local dirt track," Dean Abbey explained. "Then we got into racing go-karts and stuff."
After two years of karting, the brothers made their way to Bandoleros and by 2004 were competing at Texas tracks in the Legends Car Semi-Pro division.
While Randy Abbey and wife, Sharon, have both worked extremely hard to provide financially for their sons' racing careers, their support extends far beyond money and often creates a bit of a juggling act on the home front.
"My mom flew in with us this weekend," Dean Abbey said. "But my dad will be coming later on. They sort of switch out, because someone has to stay home and take care of our little brothers."
It should be noted, however, that the need for speed is not the only characteristic the Abbey brothers gained from their parents. Strong values and moral character are highly stressed in the Abbey household, as evidenced by their partnerships with Speedway Children's Charities, The Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center and the International Dyslexia Association.
"We're giving all the money that we win in the 10 races here to Speedway Children's Charities," said Dean Abbey, who is especially proud of his family's involvement with the International Dyslexia Association, an understandable sentiment considering he himself is dyslexic.
"Racing has helped me with my dyslexia," said Dean Abbey. "It has helped me with learning fractions because I use fractions with measurements and picking out tool sizes. I found it easier to remember my spelling words if I studied them while I was working on the race cars. Dyslexia has made me have to try twice as hard in school so I will be able to do what I want to do, race. My mom and dad told me that as long as I kept trying to do well in school, I could keep racing. So no matter how hard things get at school, I know I have to keep going if I want to keep racing."
Science and engineering are of particular interest to Steven Abbey and he has earned numerous awards for his work.
"Working on my race cars and trying to make them better and faster has really sparked my interest in science, math and engineering," said the younger of the Abbey brothers. "Twice I have qualified for the Exxon Mobile Texas State Science Fair with projects pertaining to racing."
The 13th annual Summer Shootout, which runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 8 with a special Monday night event on July 3, features three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and the Thunder Roadsters.
Adult tickets are just $5 for adults with children 6-12 admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15. For more information, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.