This photo reminds some of the movie “The Sandlot.” It’s a story about a kid who moves into a new neighborhood and becomes friends with a bunch of kids at the local baseball field.
They all hang out together, support one another; go through tough times and more.
But when you look at this photo, they are not wearing baseball uniforms, nor have a baseball glove in their hands. These kids are wearing racing suits. Some proudly displaying their car numbers to just a basic black & white color.
Each one of them has a dream. Those dreams could be anywhere from being a doctor to being the next local driver to becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
But this is where those dreams start. They start at the local short tracks.
Some of these kids may have started racing go-karts or quarter midgets. They then graduate to bandoleros then to Legend cars. Some will take a path to racing a 4-cylinder car while some will race a full-bodied Super Late Model.
But they start at the short track.
They arrive each week with their family in tow to support them from the stands.
The young drivers have their responsibilities once they get to their pit stalls from helping to unloading to wiping the dust off the car.
It’s during that downtime it is where friendships are developed and respect is gained for the on track competition.
It is where they learn from their mistakes on the track and apologizing if they are the ones at fault, as we all hope that parents teach them the true spirit of competition rather than this what you need to do to get even with them.
Today, we are all seeing the results of what friendships like what we see in the picture is having on the higher levels of the sport.
Many of the young drivers competing in NASCAR’s top three series grew up racing against each other in bandoleros, legends and micro sprints.
Through social media, we can still see how strong those friendships are today. Whether it’s Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney riding together from Phoenix to Los Angeles to Blaney saying he made Chase Elliott dinner after getting him involved in an accident at a recent race.
Oh yes, there will be rivalries. It is part of the human nature of competition. Rivalries bring out the best in competitors, but rivals can also be friends. When you look at that photo, sure one or two may be rivals on the track, but that is where they leave it.
Some of these kids may not go further in their racing career, but may find success in other professions or sports. But the lessons they learned at the short track may become a huge value later in life.
In 15-20 years from now, it would be cool to know what happened with each one of these individuals in the photo and see where they are today.
That will show the true success of short track racing for today’s youth, and hopefully start a trend from one generation to the next.