In the midst of summer league ball games, Centennial events, board meetings and much more Woodward often forgets about a unique group of local men (and supportive women).

That group is the guys who “want to go fast.”

The car racing guys.

“It’s definitely a sport,” said Randy Sallee. “At this level we may not be ‘athletes’ but it’s definitely a sport.”

Although Woodward has not had its own race track for more than 15 years there are more than 20 men in the area who are still dedicated to racing modifieds on dirt tracks around the country.

These men include Pat McVicker, Ian McVicker, Kelly Wheeler, Randy Sallee, Jonathan McCoy, Bryan Rowland, Brandon Kenny, Darren Hacker, Mike Roach, Tommy Weder, Jr., Danny Aytes, Nick Shenberger, Dereck Ramirez, Mike Shenberger, John Newton, Chris Baker, Justin Danner, Willy Kraft, Shawn Kraft, Tyson Kraft and Shane McDowell (crew member).

Much of the area race car building goes on in a shop owned by Leon Ramirez and operated by Willy Kraft and his two sons – Shawn Kraft who is the builder and Tyson Kraft who makes the bodies and sets the cars up.

“Ive been building cars for 15 years and now my boys are kind of taking it over,” said Willy Kraft. “I’ve been racing on and off for 20 years.”

For most of those involved racing has been a family tradition for many years.

“There’s a lot of history here,” said Pat McVicker.

“It’s more of a family sport than a lot of people realize,” said Roach.

McVicker said that while many activities are limited to certain age groups the sport of racing allows anyone to be involved no matter how young or old they are.

But for Woodward’s drivers racing is not just a little hobby.

These guys are good.

“The core group of these guys can go anywhere in the nation and be competitive,” said McVicker. “Their reputation greatly exceeds the state they live in.”

Racing in much more than going out and driving a car at high speeds. It is also a lot of dedication.

“You have to work,” said Sallee.

Beyond driving the car there is also extensive repair work and preparation between races.

The driving part is no simple task either.

“You have to concentrate and focus so hard,” said Sallee. “The only thing you’re thinking the whole time is keeping the car in control.”

Unlike driving a regular car with a standard transmission these race cars have two gears: low and high.

Sallee explained some of the other differences between driving a regular car and a race car.

One of the basic differences is when a driver would let off the clutch in a normal car a race car requires the clutch to be pushed down along with the gas.

Sallee also said that a race car driver cannot focus on the car in front of him but focuses on the track four or five carlengths ahead.

“You have to watch the track, not the cars,” said Sallee. “Peripheral vision is extremely important.”

Another obstacle these drivers must overcome is mud on their eye shield. The drivers use something called a “tear” which is a thin piece of plastic placed over the shield which can be torn away when the shield gets muddy.

“When it’s real muddy I put up to 13 tears on,” said Sallee.

Sallee also said that mud is not the only challenge. Sometimes when the track is very dry driving on it is similar to driving on ice according to Sallee.

Local driver Tommy Weder, Jr. sees a lot of the nation in a short span of time.

Racing in the United States Modified Touring Series Weeder, Jr. drives for a team owned by his father Tommy Weder.

“This week I leave Monday and go to Nebraska and race there Tuesday, in Minnesota on Wednesday, Iowa Thursday and Wisconsin Friday,” said Weder, Jr. “We race 74 shows this year.”

Weder, Jr. is currently ranked fifth in the national point standing.

The skill, the challenges and the quality time spent with friends and family is what keeps these drivers in the sport.

“It’s addicting,” said McVicker.

This year the drivers have a whole new motivation and would like to dedicate their racing year to the late Lisa Hacker who never missed a race.

“She put a smile on your face,” said McVicker. “ You could have a bad day at the races and Lisa would come up and give you a hug and it didn’t matter if you finished first or last.”

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