A FAMILY TRADITION
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
Family is a huge part of the Starkey 4x4 races, and the 27th annual races will showcase many of them this week.
For at least these four local families, a love of racing ties them together. Not to mention the adrenaline rush that comes with racing a machine at top speeds through a mud bog or across a sand pit.
Three generations of racers come from this Summerville family. Jerry and Jan began racing in 1972.
"I like to go fast," Jan said.
Jerry and Jan have retired from racing but they still support their family.
Rocky, their son, retired from racing two years ago. Rocky raced for 21 years. Rocky's son, Clint, will be racing a Jeep for the first time this weekend.
Clint's jeep, "The Grinch," is the competitor to John Beterbide's "Make My Day." That Jeep is retired. "Make My Day" captured more than 200 awards over the years.
Clint, 21, raced four-wheelers and motorcycles most of the time a natural fit for Starkey.
Tom Wells of Elgin started racing three years ago.
Tom loves to race "Bad Habit," a funny car Jeep.
He races "just for the fellowship, and it's just a lot of fun, a lot of fun to race, (and) the thrill of the speed," he said.
His son, Shane, lives in Ione and won the Big Buck Shoot Out last year and has won the X class the past two years.
"We've done really well," Tom said.
Shane also races "Bad Habit." He tried to explain his reason for racing.
"It's just a big adrenaline rush," he said. "You get strapped into a seat of something that has 700 horsepower, exposed on a sandy, loose surface like Starkey . It's pretty much strap yourself to a rocket, out of control the whole time.
"It's kind of an extreme thing."
Dave Kennedy, Starkey 4x4 club president, has been racing for more than 20 years.
Kennedy, of Elgin, was unable to count the awards he has won. He got two first places last year in the modified bug and pro brackets.
He likes sand dragging best.
"I like stock car racing a lot, too," he said, "but the four-second rush I get sand dragging is so much greater. It kind of took over."
His son Devan, 14, took a second place last year and was first two years ago.
"It's just an adrenaline rush," said Devan, who started racing four years ago.
Retired racer Vern Crouch remembers how he got involved with racing. He bought a new 1975 Ram Charger with the sticker still in the window, he recalls with a laugh, and was given a helmet and $10. He threw everything out and started to race.
"I lost," he said.
Vern and his son, John, live in La Grande. Vern recalls why he liked Starkey.
"Adrenaline," he said, laughing. "Pure and simple. You can't do it from stoplight to stoplight. (You) must get in the mud somewhere."
John began racing in 1980 but has not raced for 10 years.
"I don't know," John said when asked why he liked racing. "I like to drive."
The Crouchs miss Starkey.
"If somebody gave me a truck today, I'd be up there racing," Vern said, laughing. "That's all it would take."