Age no factor for King racing
Earlier in season, the father-son duo finished first and second.
By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BRISTOLVILLE -- Sixteen-year-old Russell King isn't slowing down for anybody.
He and his father, Rex King, of Bristolville, are the drivers for King Brothers Racing, and race dirt track V-8 Big Block Modified cars. Russell drives car No. 56; his father is No. 65.
"There's not a whole bunch of people my age in my division," Russell said.
Although many children race go-karts, most dirt and asphalt tracks have policies against allowing anyone under 16 in the pits or on the course.
"It's hard for kids to learn about racing if they can't get to the pits," Russell's mother, Sis, said.
Russell already has a full racing schedule.
The Kings race every weekend: Saturdays at Sharon Speedway in Hartford and Sundays at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa.
In addition, they are also part of the Bicknell Racing Products Modified Tour. It consists of 11 races throughout the summer at tracks in northeast Ohio, Western Pa. and Canada.
Both father and son drive 2003 Bicknell V-8 modified cars with a 467 cubic inch Chevy big block engines. The cars have Bert transmissions and race on Hoosier tires.
The frame and body were purchased from Bicknell Racing Products in Canada and they recycle parts from older cars they have raced. But parts are no more than two years old, Russell said.
The King Brothers Racing Team includes eight members. Crew chiefs are Johnny Zdelar and Rexy "Cooter" King Jr. Zdelar, who does most of the chassis work and set-up, has been working with the team for 20 years.
Rexy King, 14, hopes to begin dirt track racing next season. He will race at Volusia County (Fla.) Speedway in February. If the race goes well, he will race next season, Sis said.
Russell's girlfriend, Emmalie Flower, has joined the team. She helps with cleaning, maintenance and cares for the helmets. Emmalie also helps with the race order and lists.
Jim Bailey builds the engines. Matt McCrimmon, 23, does all of the team's tire work. Don Nichols, 47, handles most of the cars' maintenance.
Marlene and the late Russell King, Rex King's parents, started the King Bothers Racing Team in 1973.
This is Russell's first season racing at Sharon Speedway.
"It's been up and down. There were a lot of crashes, but I had some good runs, too," he said.
He has already won a heat and a feature race. The win came in the Gibson-Governor V-8 Modifieds Feature on June 18. His father finished second.
"I've beat him before, but to take first and beat him felt good," Russell said.
"Some people aren't happy with losing to 'some rookie', but I want to win as bad as anyone else out there," he added.
Added Sis: "A lot of people have asked if Rex lets Russell pass him. They feed off each other, but they don't help each other. Neither is going to let the other pass and they aren't going to let each other win."
Russell also had to take the lead from mentor and friend Allen Dellinger.
"He's been very helpful to me and the team," he said.
Russell has been in the garage and at the track since he was a month old, said Sis King.
"Racing is all that we know," she said.
Russell started racing go-karts when he was 8 years old and Rexy when he was 6.
Russell had 22 feature wins and was a two-time Good Hope Speedway Track Champion.
"Russell has always been competitive. He just has this desire," Sis said. "We took him racing just for fun, we thought he'd like it. He just always wants to finish first."
Russell raced at Tri-City last season because it was one of the few dirt tracks where drivers under age 16 were eligible.
He finished ninth in points at the track in his division and was the Twin-State Auto Racing Club's Rookie Dirt Driver of the Year.
He attends Bristol High School and plans to attend Trumbull County Career and Technical Center to study power equipment mechanics.
Russell has strict rules to follow at home to be allowed to race, like keeping his grades up, Sis said.
"Sometimes it's hard to balance racing and school. I have to put a lot of time into the cars. It's something you have to be really committed to be able to do," he said.
"I plan on racing dirt for a few more years, and I'm interested in the late models," Russell said.
He hopes to turn to racing on pavement in the future and dreams of racing NASCAR. He looks up to driver Kasey Kahne and others who have a dirt track background.
"I'd love to be recognized for doing what I like and get paid for it," he said.
Most paved tracks require racers to be at least 18 years old, so Russell will have to wait a few years, he said.
King Brothers Racing sponsors the Russ King Memorial each year. It is held Labor Day weekend at Sharon Speedway and is in honor of Rex's grandfather.
It will be held Sept. 2 this year and will feature All-Star Circuit of Champions and BRP Modifieds.
XFor more information on the King Brothers Race Team, visit www.KingBrosRacing.com.