by Gregg Paul
Racing has long been a family affair, and the second annual Swiss Colony Howie Lettow Memorial 150 is shaping up to be another fine example. NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek will join his son, John Hunter Nemechek and race at the famed Milwaukee Mile on July 8th-9th.
After watching his son, then age 14 set fast time for the event, and seeing the stellar field of drivers entered last year, Joe couldn’t fight the urge to fully join in for this year’s event.
“I decided to run this event after watching the race last year first hand,” said Nemechek. “I always had a lot of fun competing at the Mile in the Nationwide series but most of all there is a little friendly competitive talk going on between my son John Hunter and myself. I have not been in a super late model since winning the All Pro championship in 1989 so this should be exciting! The event was awesome last year as there were 80+ cars with good competitive racing and a huge spectator turn out. It was nice to see the grandstands full for a great short track race at the Milwaukee Mile.”
Since Joe has been racing in NASCAR’s elite divisions, and considering John Hunter’s young age, the duo have not had many chances to race against each other. Like any father does, Joe has mentored his son, and it is clear that the apple has not fallen far from the tree. “Front Row Joe” saw his son become “Front Row John Hunter” after the younger Nemechek set fast time at the inaugural event last year.
Joe Nemechek even appears to be a bit envious of John Hunter’s ability at such an early age.
“To race against my son will be a special day,” said Nemechek. “I have been able to help him get up to speed and to see how much talent he has and the desire to succeed is really neat. I just hope the outcome of the race is not too lopsided, as John Hunter will be fast.”
Yet there are always those who will question the young age of racers these days. Especially when they are racing cars at such fast speeds before they can even legally drive a car on the street. Joe is extremely comfortable as well as proud of John Hunter’s ability at his younger age.
“I think John Hunter’s age is good for what experience he has,” said the elder Nemechek. “I wish I was able to start at his age, as I did not start in cars until I was in my 20s. In this day and time the new drivers are starting young and getting lots of good quality experience. Right now I want him to be competitive in any race he is in and gain that racing knowledge that will help with his future. I have helped and coached many young drivers coming up and I definitely see John Hunter’s potential to be a top Cup driver.”
It is probably every father’s dream to see his son succeed, but it might not necessarily be at the father’s expense. While Joe really wants to see his son be competitive and hopefully win races, he probably won’t give away a win if he is in position to beat his son to the checkers.
“If John Hunter and I are racing 1&2 on the final lap you can expect both of us to do everything we can to win and for the bragging rights at home,” said Nemechek. “I hope it will come down to that but there is going to be a lot of good cars there.”
If last year was any indication, the Nemechek’s will be two of those good cars.
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The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA