Charlotte Police Officer "Speeds" at Shootout
The 39-year-old Charlotte resident works as a patrolman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department where citing people for speeding is a big part of his job.
Then, during the 10-week Hardee¿s Summer Shootout on Tuesday nights at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, Collins climbs into his Thunder Roadster race car where speeding around a paved quarter-mile oval is the objective.
A native of Vienna, Ga., Collins has been involved in law enforcement for nearly 20 years, including an 11-year stint undercover with Charlotte¿s Vice Narcotics Bureau. He says the thrills of working undercover are similar to those he experiences on the race track.
¿There were a lot of intense moments,¿ Collins said about his days as an undercover vice officer. ¿But the experience was incredible.¿
Even though this is Collins¿ rookie season in the Quaker Steak & Lube Thunder Roadster division of the Hardee¿s Summer Shootout, he is a motorsports veteran and his list of accomplishments includes a victory in NASCAR¿s premier series.
Collins was the jack man on the Rainbow Warrior crew when Jeff Gordon drove the No. 24 Chevrolet to victory at North Carolina Motor Speedway in February of 1995; and his experience with Hendrick Motorsports left a lasting impression.
¿That entire organization is a class act; it is top notch,¿ Collins acknowledged. ¿I could have stayed on as a back-up jack man, but I wanted to try new things. So, I bought a dirt track car and knocked myself out.¿
Collins continued to dabble as a jack man in the NASCAR Busch Series for the next couple of seasons, but in 2002 he decided to spend his ¿off duty¿ time racing at East Lincoln Motor Speedway, a four-tenths mile clay oval in Stanley, N.C.
After competing on dirt, Collins wanted to try the paved tracks.
¿At first, I rented a Thunder Roadster to run at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway, and then I invested in one,¿ Collins said. ¿There¿s a lot of beating and banging,¿ Collins said about driving his No. 50 Community Homes/BMW-Ducati of Indian Trail-sponsored Thunder Roadster. ¿I can¿t wait to improve so I can beat and bang right along with them.¿
So where does this police officer get the biggest rush, at work or on the race track?
¿At the race track because of the closeness of the competition, it¿s definitely an adrenaline rush,¿ said Collins.
Featuring three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and one of Charlotte¿s finest, policeman John Collins in a Thunder Roadster, the Hardee¿s Summer Shootout runs each Tuesday night through Aug. 17 at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway. A unique novelty event is also part of each program.
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.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action starting at 5:25. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and will conclude by 10:15.