The world of stock car racing is a playground for adrenaline and thrill-seekers. A world I was introduced to by my Father, Ernie Richardson. It became more than just Friday and Saturday nights getting a car ready to hit the pavement for throttling-pushing fun. It was a weekend we would come together with our second families and made memories that lasted a lifetime. Wenatchee Valley Super Oval, located in the heart of East Wenatchee, Washington was another home to me. It is dubbed as one of the fastest quarter-mile racetracks in the Northwest and brings in fans and drivers from all over. I had the pleasure of getting to speak with four amazing drivers that I get to call part of my family. With racing, it does not just become one person in the family that enjoys it, it’s a passion that spreads like a wildfire and it can’t be stopped.
Dale Wennerberg is the young gun to watch when it comes to the Super Late Model class, a group of heart-roaring cars that test the limits of speed. Dale grew up around the track and spent a lot of time in the shop with his Dad, Kim Wennerberg, a very well-known driver around the racing circuit. As soon as Dale was old enough to drive, he had to get a taste of it himself. Dale’s Father, Kim has been involved in the racing community for 30 years and is one of the best drivers here in the Northwest. Both of Dale’s brothers have raced as well as his Mother, Kelly Sims. Now that Dale is carrying on the family racing legacy, he has his brother, Brett as one of the best car fabricators here in the Northwest by his side. Dale started with a youth division class called Youth Hornets for his first two years, moved up to Roadrunners, then spent the next three years in Pro Late Models. He even made appearances in the Thunder Cars and Midget class as well. This year, he made the jump to Super Late Models and is giving the seasoned veterans a run for their money. The best part about racing for Dale is the adrenaline rush and driving the car in general. He said as far as changes in the sport as the years have gone on for his racing career, he says the number of cars had dropped dramatically in terms of who would come to compete, but rest assured it's coming up in numbers and it sure does show. He is expecting the count to keep growing as the season continues. I have got to watch Dale grow as a driver and it is amazing how much this young guy has accomplished. He has learned from not only his family but many other drivers and he continues to learn and grow in the sport. He is one to watch when it comes to the younger generation of drivers.
The Childress’ are a powerhouse of drivers. A car set up for success and sure to put on a show. My Father raced with Justin’s Father and we all became a good group of friends. We were also neighbors and decided to turn it into the Fifth Street Stables. Consisting of Wes, My Father, and Darald Schall. Wes Childress was a name known by many because of his start in thunder cars in the mid-80s. He went on from that class and started racing Mini Stocks in the 90s and he took home many championships throughout his career. Justin has a passion for not only racing and driving but the mechanics of it as well. Justin started by buying a 1980 Ltd out of a backyard for a dirt-cheap price of fifty dollars. It didn’t run but that made it even more fun when he got it running and turned it into a Bump to Pass car. Justin went on from the bump to pass and raced Mini Stocks like his Dad, Wes, and Brother Josh, then later got into the Legends, and then Thunder Cars. Justin’s favorite part about racing is being in the pits with everyone. It’s a family down there, anyone would give you the shirt off your back if you needed it, and he would do the same. “There’s lots of respect for one another deserved or not,” said Childress. Even after many years of racing and taking a break from being in the seat, Justin said the sport has not changed for him. It was always about having fun and that is why it’s a hobby. Justin has followed in the footsteps of his father and went on to win multiple championships. He has embodied what passion truly means for the sport. He not only has a passion to race but a passion to work on a car and get it to its full potential.
Chad and Amanda Holaday have racing in their blood. This is a family that is eat, sleep, and breathe, and race. For them, it's more than just a sport, it is a chance to help other drivers, and make the sport the best it can be in the Northwest. Chad and Amanda have been friends of our family for many years. Chad and Amanda were both involved in Mini Stocks like my Father was. Chad’s Wife, Amanda Holaday is no stranger to the racing scene. Amanda’s Dad was a crew chief for a friend for a few years then got the itch to get into racing himself. Amanda got to load the car up at the track and once she turned sixteen, she was hooked! When she graduated from college, they started rebuilding her Dad’s car for her and her brother to share. That did not last too long because Amanda became more dedicated to the sport than her brother, so it was hers for the taking after only sharing the car for half a season. Her Father, Jerry Rowe raced and was the 1999 Bomber champion. Her husband, Chad has won multiple championships in different classes of cars. Their son Colby has been racing for a while now and has secured a championship for himself as well. Amanda has two championships under her belt. She shares the same championship with her Father and her son for winning in the Bomber/Thunder class. Amanda shared a special moment with her brother when he raced her backup car in the Bomber class. She had won her first championship; she did not end up winning the race, but the points were in her favor and she locked it in. She and her brother both celebrated by doing a side-by-side burnout. After all these years, Amanda loves that the best part about racing is that it is a family sport. Though she does not race anymore, she still is involved. She now spots for her son instead of her husband because now they race against each other. Amanda said, “the racing family is a strong family. If something happens to a fellow racer, we all rally behind them!” Amanda is a driving force for her family. Though she is retired from the sport, I continue to watch how passionate she is for her boys carrying on the family tradition.
Family. It’s a common theme here in the racing world. Short-track racing has had its peaks and valleys but what people do not realize is that sports need support and without it, it would not be around. If you have never experienced the roar of the engines on a cool Saturday night, find your nearest racetrack, and support it. Auto racing is one of the most unique sports out there because it makes any individual feel a rush, an exuberance, and a thirst for more. It takes fans, drivers, and crew members and turns them into that common unbreakable bond, family.
“Most will never understand but there are moments when rubber and muscle and steel and skin merge, when we hunt with one focus, one purpose, and every atom of our being crackles with life. When the green flag drops, the stress and worries of daily life vanish. There is no past, no future, only now. Time slows and speed evaporates into a rhythmic flow of balanced velocities as we fiercely pursue our personal best. This is why we race.”
I hope this article gave you an opportunity to learn more about short-track racing and why the sport is so valuable!
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