Backyard Race Track a Key for Bassett Brothers
Ronnie Bassett Jr., 11, and his brother, 10-year-old Dillon, have both visited victory lane during Lowe's Motor Speedway's Summer Shootout Series and a contributing factor to their success is a race track the family built in the backyard of its Winston-Salem, N.C., home.
"We bought some property right beside the house to build a shop," explained Ronnie Bassett, the boys' father. "And we had some land left over, so we built the track at the beginning of last year."
"Every day is race day at our house," said Dillon. "All they do is eat, sleep, drink and breathe racing. If it doesn't have a motor, they are not interested," the elder Bassett added. "If the boys are not physically racing in their cars, they are racing on the Play Station, racing their dirt bikes or racing around the house."
The backyard track has played an important role in developing the boys' driving skills and it obviously paid off as Ronnie Jr. captured the
2006 Bandolero Bandits National Championship.
"For kids their age, seat time is everything and we felt this would be the best way to improve that," Ronnie Bassett explained. "They can get out there and run and run and run, not just 20 laps a week. We didn't build it perfect. One end is tight; one end has a bump in it; one end has a sweeping corner. Learning to get over a bump in the Bandolero is an advantage. It played a big role in Ronnie winning the National Championship last year."
"The track is used to shake the car down and scuff the tires in," said Ronnie Jr. "When we get a new car, we can go out there and drive it around and see how we do. The track is a little smaller than a fifth-mile and has a guardrail around it and everything. You just have to go out, open the garage door and you are ready to run."
The Basset brothers developed a passion for the sport by watching their father drive race cars.
"My dad raced for about 10 years and ever since I saw him racing, it made me want to race," Ronnie Jr. explained. "I was 8 years old when I started racing Bandoleros. Last year, we raced 96 times and went all over the country. This summer I am racing in the Bandolero Young Guns division of the Summer Shootout on Tuesday nights and then we race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursdays and go to Kentucky or Orlando on the weekends."
"My dad is my role model because if he wouldn't have raced then I probably wouldn't be racing," Dillon noted. "Racing is our favorite; we just love to race."
"I started out sponsoring a race car and then running mini-stocks for a few years," said Ronnie Bassett. "Then I raced late model stocks for a few years at Bowman Gray Stadium. For the past year and a half though, my driving has been on the back burner, letting the boys race and helping them.
That's been more fun anyway." Ronnie and Dillon's mother, Lisa Bassett, also likes to get in on the action, occasionally climbing behind the wheel of her own Bandolero race car. But she most enjoys the unique family bonding experience racing provides.
"With the Bandoleros and Legends Cars, the whole family is allowed into the pit area and into the driver's meetings, so it brings the whole family together and that is a good thing," said Lisa Bassett.
The Bassett brothers know their dreams of becoming NEXTEL Cup drivers are unique for their age. They also know their friends think they are crazy.
"Friends at school don't believe what we're doing. They think we're crazy, and say we don't really race," Ronnie Jr. said. "I hope to be a Cup driver and prove them wrong."
Lowe's Motor Speedway's Summer Shootout Series, which runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 7, features three classes of Bandolero racing, four divisions of Legends Cars and the Thunder Roadsters.
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.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. For information, call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.