Family, fun finish first at go-kart track - Burlington Times News

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Family, fun finish first at go-kart track - Burlington Times News
Apr 15th 2012, 04:56

GIBSONVILLE — More than 100 drivers are standing behind the flagstand at Victory Lane Raceway as Allen Lewis takes the mic.

It's shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday and Lewis lays down the ground rules. No fighting. No foul language. No alcohol. Nothing that would go against the family-friendly image Lewis wants the track, his track for the last two years, to purvey.

"This is a place for the family to come and enjoy itself," Lewis said. "When they go home, they can do the drinking all there."

Trent Shoffner appreciates the family atmosphere as much as anybody. But he's still a nervous father.

The Kimesville native can only watch as his 11-year-old son Richard partakes in a purple plate go-kart heat race here. Trent used to race at the track when it was known as The Cow Pasture, but that was years ago.

Cars are faster now, and Shoffner's No. 1 priority is his son's safety. So before he lets his boy behind the wheel, Trent doles out a little fatherly advice.

Don't get hurt.

"That's as good as winning as far as I'm concerned," the elder Shoffner said.

Richard Shoffner has yet to find Victory Lane's Victory Lane in his two seasons on the circuit. In Saturday's heat race, he finished fourth — out of four racers.

But it's not all about winning. For one, Richard Shoffner loves to drive. It's something none of his fifth-grade classmates at Nathanael Green Elementary School can relate to. But that doesn't mean he's not competitive.

"When I'm out there, I don't play around," Richard Shoffner said.

Keith Brame is no stranger to winning. He finished first in three classifications a year ago and is competing in three races this weekend aboard his fire engine red No. 12 go-kart.

But right now, Brame has no time to waste. The Gibsonville resident who spends his work week at Alamance Mufflers in Burlington has a ways to go before his vehicle is race-ready.

"When you run three classes out of about 15 classes, you don't have much time to do anything else but get ready for the next race," he said.

Brame wins — a lot. But the losses stay in his mind longer than the victories. Especially when they come against a family member.

"He beat me last week," Brame said of losing to his brother. "It's the first time he's outrun me since he's been racing. He's pretty psyched about it and I'll have to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Nicholas Sykes has to correct his father. Chad Sykes said his offspring was 5 years old, and Nicholas wasn't about to stand for such inaccuracies.

"I'm 5½," he said, eager to get the facts across.

He's not yet 6 years old and he's already a veteran at Victory Lane. Chad Sykes first put his boy on a go-kart two years ago and Nicholas has hardly come off since.

But on this day, the family is just a spectator, taking a one-week break from racing at — where else? — the track.

They sit in the bleachers and everybody who walks by seems peaceful. A few puff on cigarettes, but that's about the extent of iffy behavior. There are no beer cans, people are watching their language. Parents start the occasional spat after their sons (and daughters) are done racing, but those are broken up quickly to avoid suspension. An occasional accident will send dirt clouds to those watching along the fence. But that's all part of the experience.

In short, an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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