Acclaimed writer Max Lucado once said, “My father didn’t do anything unusual; he did what dads are supposed to do—be there.”
Through the grind of a World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series tour, several drivers and officials make sure they do just that – be there. They’re there as full-time drivers and officials. And more importantly, they’re there as dads.
Whether they’re supporting their kid’s dream or seeing their kids grow up at the track, it’s moments they get to cherish, especially with Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19.
One of those families taking the World of Outlaws journey for the first time is the Hammers, as Kyle Hammer learns the ropes of a national touring schedule during his rookie season. Through his high school days as a wrestler to his time now as a full-time race car driver, Hammer’s father, Don, has always been by his side.
Seeing his son succeed is something that strengthens the bond between the two as Don gets to watch Kyle do what he loves.
“It’s awesome,” Don said. “I can’t imagine not being with him; I mean, I can’t even put it in words. It’s just awesome being there watching him do what he does.
“I mean, he does all the work; he works on the car all week; I just help him if he needs something at the track. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s just awesome.”
While Kyle and Don have a bond on the road, it’s a step further for fellow Rookie of the Year contender Max Blair and his family.
The Centerville, PA driver has three generations traveling to races each week – his dad Robbie (also his crew chief) and his two kids, Mclane and Hayes.
Blair, like Hammer, is making his first journey on a national tour—one, he said, wouldn’t be possible without his family.
“Our whole deal has always been family-oriented,” Blair said. “When me, (car owners) Shawn (Martin), and Lisa (Martin) talked about this whole deal, it was one of the first things we talked about, that my family was part of it.
“They were super cool with it, which is awesome. I’m definitely fortunate they get to come with me all the time. The kids didn’t come this weekend (to the DIRTcar Summer Nationals races), so it’ll be 10 or 11 days I won’t see them, so I’m kind of bummed about that.”
Blair’s son Mclane has become a fixture in World of Outlaws CASE Late Model events, pulling his dad’s chip during the redraw or smiling from ear to ear in Victory Lane.
The five-time Series winner stated how excited he is to see his son grow up on the road at a place he’s comfortable.
“That’s probably the coolest part,” Blair said. “Believe me; the kid loves racing. That’s all he does. When we’re at home, he’s playing with his cars, he literally learned all his numbers from which car number they were and all that, so it’s definitely fun.
“I don’t always get to see to see a lot of the stuff he does until videos later of Victory Lane and things like that, so it’s pretty cool.”
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models drivers aren’t the only ones with their kids at the track. When the Series ventures close to Series Scorer Jeff Olson’s Minnesota home, his wife Jessica and 5-year-old son Jameson join him.
You’ll usually find Jameson walking around, talking to his favorite drivers and hanging out at the Series command center while at the track.
“It’s a dream come true,” Olson said. “It’s what my parents did when I was younger. Obviously, they didn’t work in the industry, but to see him follow the interest that I have and not pushing it on him or nothing, and be there, and getting to push the pill draw button for (Frank Heckenast Jr.), and see the excitement when the drivers come up, you know it’s nothing more than a dad can ask for when it comes to that stuff.”
Olson’s racing bond with Jameson doesn’t stop when they’re at the track. It’s something they continue when they’re at home, including Jameson’s growing collection of Late Model diecasts.
“We’ve watched both shows of the (DIRTcar) Summer Nationals,” Olson said. “If he knows his favorite drivers are racing, we have to watch them.
“He has all of his 48 and counting 1/64-scale Late Models that he races. It’s not just the racetrack; it’s at home, it’s, ‘When is our next trip?’ and ‘Who’s going to be there?’ and ‘Who’s racing tonight?’ With Summer Nationals going on, we watch Late Models every night, so it carries from the racetrack to home.”
The Olson’s aren’t the only officials who enjoy the family bond on the road. Sometimes you’ll see Series Director Casey Shuman’s daughter Sawyer join him for the weekend, and announcer Rick Eshelman’s son also stops at the track.
As the season-long grind continues for the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model drivers and officials, one thing stays constant for the dads on tour—being there for their kids, which isn’t anything unusual.
The season continues for the Series when they collide with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals June 24-25 for a visit to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, MO, and the inaugural St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff.
The Xtreme Outlaws Sprint Car Series presented by Low-E Insulation and DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified tour will join the Late Models for two nights of fierce action in the “Gateway to the West.”
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.