NASCAR Kids Following in Fathers' Tire Tracks During Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout
Several of the more than 200 drivers who compete each Tuesday night in the Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway have ties to the NASCAR community.
There are a few young racers who have a family member that works for a NASCAR team while others have a parent who makes a living in one of the many businesses that support the area's motorsports industry.
Then there are six youngsters with very familiar last names who are literally following in the tire tracks of their racing fathers. Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Jesse Little, Matt Wallace, Casey LaJoie and Tyler Green comprise this year's group of Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout competitors commonly referred to as the "NASCAR kids."
Blaney, whose father Dave drives the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, races in the Coke Zero Legends Car Semi-Pro division. A third-generation racer, the 14-year-old Blaney has spent a big part of his life at race tracks.
"I have always enjoyed getting to go to the races," said Blaney, who started driving race cars when he was 7. "Racing is really fun. I love the competition and the thrill of the speed. It's really addicting when you get into it."
Blaney, who hopes to eventually compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, understands there is a lot he can learn from his father's racing experience.
"My dad teaches me a lot about racing, like throttle-control and how much brake to use," said Blaney. "He's raced a lot of different types of cars in a lot of different places, so he knows what he's talking about."
Elliott, the 12-year-old son of 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, started his Summer Shootout career last season in Bandoleros and moved to the Coke Zero Legends Car Semi-Pro division for his sophomore campaign.
"I love racing and I enjoy getting to spend time with my family because of racing," Elliott said. "My dad tries to make it out to all the races, and he normally does."
Bill Elliott says he tries to teach his son the tools necessary to be a successful driver instead of just telling him what to do with the car.
"He's done a good job," said the proud father. "I make him go over and check all the nuts and bolts and everything. I'm just trying to help him learn as much as he can about the racecar. Knowing the car is what's going to help him win."
"Racing is so much fun; I hope I can do it all my life," said the younger Elliott. "My dad thinks it's cool that I enjoy racing and he doesn't try to talk me out of it or anything. He's like any other father, he just wants me to be happy with whatever I do, whether I race or not."
Also taking to the quarter-mile oval each Tuesday night is 11-year-old Jesse Little, son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Chad Little.
Little began driving quarter-midgets when he was 6 and now competes in the POWERade Bandolero Bandits division which features drivers ages 8 to 11.
"I love everything about racing," Little said. "I've raced all over, in places like Bristol and Atlanta, and I just have fun doing it. Hopefully, I'll be able to be a professional race car driver some day.
"My dad helps me out a lot, a whole lot," Little added. "He's taught me everything I know about racing and how to set my car up. My dad likes that I race. He thinks it's a good thing for me to do and he will help me however he can."
Other NASCAR kids competing in the Quaker Steak & Lube Summer
. Matt Wallace is the son of NASCAR Nationwide Series veteran Mike
Wallace. A third-generation driver, the 12-year-old drives the No. 14 Bandolero in the Sprite Young Guns division.
. Casey LaJoie, 13, is the son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series
champion Randy LaJoie and drives the No. 17 car in the Sprite Bandolero Young Guns division.
. Tyler Green drives the No. 20 in the Pull-A-Part Legends Car Pro
division. The 19-year-old racer is the son of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Mark Green and the nephew of Nationwide Series champions David and Jeff Green.
The Quaker Steak & Lube Summer Shootout runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 12. It features three classes of Bandoleros, four divisions of Legends Cars and the Thunder Cars.
Admission is just $7 for adults. Children 6-12 are 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.
For information, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit online.