Several NASCAR Kids in Hardee's Summer Shooout
The 10-week racing series, which runs on the track's frontstretch quarter-mile oval each Tuesday night through Aug. 16, includes second- and third-generation racers with famous last names such as Wallace, LaJoie, Blaney, McReynolds and Green.
In fact, more than a dozen young racers whose fathers toil in the NASCAR garage area are competing in auto racing's version of Little League.
Brandon McReynolds, 14-year-old son of television commentator and former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief Larry McReynolds, is among the group.
"More people recognize me because of my dad, but I'm looking to build my own name in racing," said McReynolds, a resident of Mooresville, N.C., who is contending for the Lucas Oil Bandolero Young Guns championship. "I have several wins in the Summer Shootout and I feel like I've established myself as a serious racer."
The elder McReynolds serves as his son's mentor and crew chief.
"My dad says I should race people the way I want them to race me and that it is important to respect other drivers," McReynolds explained. "I'm a pretty clean driver and I don't take a lot of people out. I have a huge passion for NASCAR and hope to pursue racing as a career."
Tyler Green, a 16-year-old racer from Concord, N.C., is the son of NASCAR Busch Series driver Mark Green and the nephew of Busch Series champions David and Jeff Green. The youngest of the Green racers is in his fifth season of Hardee's Summer Shootout competition and is the defending Lucas Oil Bandolero Young Guns champion.
"My father and great-grandfather introduced me to racing, but I am the one that wanted to stick with it and see where it takes me," Green said.
As is the case with most competitors, the Hardee's Summer Shootout is a family affair for the Greens.
"My dad, mom and sister always come to the events and we have a great time out here," Green said.
Seventeen-year-old Chrissy Wallace, daughter of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series driver Mike Wallace, is doing double duty in the Hardee's Summer Shootout, competing in the Cabarrus Family Medicine Legends Car Semi-Pro division and the Duragloss Thunder Roadsters.
The Concord, N.C., resident takes pride in her competitive roots.
"I look up to my dad because he is the one that has helped me the most. We have always worked together as a team," Wallace explained. "He helps me with my lines and gives me advice. Even though my dad is a famous driver, I feel like I have my own identity. My dad has never pushed me to race. In fact, I would be a race car driver even if my father was not a driver."
Casey LaJoie, 10-year-old son of two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie, is in his sophomore year of Hardee's Summer Shootout action, competing in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits division.
"I like the speed and the adrenaline rush you get when you are in the driver's seat," said LaJoie, who resides in Kannapolis, N.C. "My dad is usually here to help me and my brother, and I enjoy being able to work with both of them."
Other members of the NASCAR community competing in Charlotte Motor Speedway's Hardee's Summer Shootout include:
• Ryan Blaney drives the No. 10 car in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits
division. He is the 11-year-old son of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Dave Blaney and the grandson of legendary short-track racer Lou Blaney.
.Meghan Dillner, 11, drives the No. 51 in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits division. Her father, Bob Dillner, is a NASCAR reporter for SPEED Channel.
• Austin Dillon, 15, drives the No. 3 in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Young Guns division. He is the grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress and his father, Mike Dillon, is a former NASCAR Busch Series driver who now serves as general manager of competition for Richard Childress Racing.
• Ty Dillon, 13, is the younger of the racing Dillon brothers. Ty drives the No. 21 in the Bandolero Young Guns division.
• Jessie Johnson, 16, is the brother of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title contender Jimmie Johnson. He drives the No. 5 car in the Cabarrus Family Medicine Legends Car Semi-Pro division.
• Casey LaJoie's 13-year-old brother, Corey, drives the No. 71 in the Cabarrus Family Medicine Legends Car division.
• John Nelson, 8, drives the No. 77 in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits division. His father, Gary Nelson, is managing director of research and development for NASCAR and a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief.
• William Nelson, 12, is the older of the racing Nelson brothers and drives the No. 12 in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits division.
• Matthew Wallace is Chrissy Wallace's little brother. A third-generation racer, the 9-year-old drives the No. 4 car in the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits division.
The NASCAR kids are among nearly 200 Hardee's Summer Shootout competitors that will be in action each Tuesday night through Aug. 16. The series features three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and the popular Thunder Roadsters.
Admission is just $5 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. Contact the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS for information or to purchase tickets.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:25. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15.