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Young driver follows Dad's lead

October 31, 2004|by RYAN ALLEN/Staff Writer

Mike Price has been involved in auto racing for 38 years, so he has a pretty good eye for driving talent.

It took him all of about 30 days to spot that talent in his son.

Dylan Price was one month old when his mother started taking him to races. Mike said he realized at that time that his son had a unique ability to race.

"Ever since that time, that is all he's wanted to do," Mike said.

Dylan began racing at age 5 in the Junior Novice division of the quarter midget racing circuit. He claimed his first victory in that division last year and never finished lower than fifth place, Mike said.

Now 7 years old, Dylan, who lives in Hagerstown, races in the Junior Honda division, a division his father called the most competitive of the quarter midget circuit. The circuit is open to competitors ages 5 to 16, so Dylan is racing against some drivers who are twice his age.

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Dylan, who goes by the nickname "Little Dude," has yet to notch his first win in the Junior Honda division. He had his best finish Oct. 10, when he placed third. The quarter midgets recently completed their season at Hagerstown Speedway.

Racing was a hobby for Mike for many years, but in 1992 it became his full-time profession when he joined the race team of Steve Francis, which is based in Ashland, Ky.

He lived in Kentucky for six years and traveled as far as Australia with the race team. He was a member of Francis' 1996 team that was named crew of the year in the Short Track Auto Racing Stars series.

"Practically in my sport, I've won about every race there is except for the World 100," said Price.

He said the highlight of his career came when Francis won the Conococheague 100 in 1997 at Hagerstown Speedway, Price's home track.

Dylan said Francis is his favorite driver because "my dad worked on his car." The youngster also credits his father for being influential, saying that he had taught him everything he knows.

Mike said he has more difficulty watching his son race than when his own car is on the track.

"My nerves are shot when he gets into that car," Mike said.

Dylan, however, said he does not feel nervous behind the wheel.

"There's not too much that rattles him," said his dad.

Mike said that one of the biggest hurdles in racing is finding sponsorship, especially on the quarter midget circuit.

"It's tough because nobody realizes this is here," Mike said. "Once people come and watch, they all come back."

Dylan's main sponsors are Rank and Mobile Homes in West Virginia, A&C Auto Machine in Hagerstown, The Printing Place in Hagerstown and Simpson's.

The duo plans to travel to Columbus, Ohio, in the winter where Dylan will race indoors. Dylan will race in both the 120cc and 160cc Junior Honda divisions next season.

Mike said Dylan's knowledge and feel for his car is special and separates him from other young drivers.

"He knows if the car is too loose, it's going to spin out and if it's too tight, it's going to push," Mike said.

The toughest obstacle for Dylan to overcome, Mike said, is his inexperience.

"He's racing against kids who have been driving for five or six years and he's only got about a half a year," Mike said. "Lack of seat time is the only thing that's holding him back, and that is what I told him."

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