Feeneys are a racing dynasty in the making
June 29, 2011 - By C.J. Carnacchio
|Oxford High School senior Kyle Feeney showed off his non-winged sprint car behind the 24th Street Sports Tavern during the Lapeer Rd. Country Cruise held Saturday.
Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)|
A father is never prouder than when his son decides to follow in his footsteps or in the case of Oxford resident Kevin Feeney, his tire tracks.
His son, Kyle Feeney, started racing sprint cars this year just like his old man and has quickly proved himself to be a chip off the old block and in some ways, even better.
"He's a lot smoother driver than I am. All my friends tell me that," said Kevin, who's in his 30th year of racing and last year won the championship in the Auto Value Super Sprints Series. "I don't have throttle control. I never learned that. I'm an on-the-gas-off-the-gas kind of driver."
Back in April, during his very first sprint car race at the Spartan Speedway in Mason, just south of Lansing, Kyle, who will begin his senior year this fall at Oxford High School, finished 12th out of 18 cars on the quarter-mile track.
Last week, Kyle finished 13th out of 22 cars in a 25-lap feature race at Spartan Speedway and second in an eight-car heat race.
"He's 17 years old, but he's not racing against a bunch of 17-year-olds," Kevin said. "He's racing against guys that are 20, 30,40 years old and have been racing forever. Putting things in perspective, it's pretty amazing what he's accomplished."
"Hopefully, toward the end of the year, I'll be running consistently in the top five and make 'rookie of the year' in this class, too," said Kyle, who in 2010 earned 'rookie of the year' status on three different tracks while racing full-size modified cars.
Kevin doesn't for a moment doubt his son's ability to pull it off.
"I've got all the confidence in the world he'll do that," he said. "One of the things I admire about him is he sets realistic goals for himself."
No stranger to the track, Kyle's whole life has revolved around racing in one form or another.
"I've been around it since I was born," he said. "I started racing go-karts when I was 9 (years old)."
When asked what it is he enjoys so much about racing, Kyle replied, "I like the speed and all the g-force you get. The exhilaration from stepping on the gas pedal and having it put you in the back of your seat."
For those unfamiliar with it, a sprint car is a high-powered racing vehicle designed for running on short oval or circular tracks topped with dirt or pavement.
Sprint tracks can be anywhere from a quarter to a full mile in length depending on whether winged or non-winged cars are racing.
Right now, Kyle's driving a non-winged car, while Kevin is competing behind the wheel of a winged sprint car.
Both father and son agree the non-winged car is much harder to race.
"The non-wing is a lot more challenging, honestly, than the winged cars because you don't have the downforce. It's a lot more finesse," Kevin said.
The wings generate downforce, which is a downwards thrust created by the aerodynamic characteristics of a car. The purpose of downforce is to allow a car to travel faster through a corner by increasing the vertical force on the tires, which creates more grip.
"Non-winged are a little harder to handle," Kyle said. "(Without the downforce), you're not as stuck to the track, so you're sliding around a little bit more."
It appears father and son might be squaring off against each other in winged cars this weekend at the Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run on Friday and Owosso Speedway on Saturday.
"I've got mixed emotions about it. I'm a sore loser," Kevin said. "It should be interesting."
"He doesn't want to get beat by me. I don't want to get beat by him," Kyle said.
However, Kyle noted, with a smile, "I've raced go-carts against him and beat him before."
Right now, Kyle has seven sponsors for his sprint car.
"We're always looking for more," he said.
"Every little bit helps," Kevin noted. "We work with sponsors in several different ways, especially in today's economic environment. It's not easy for people to just write checks. That's not what we're about. It's all about coming to a mutually beneficial agreement where we can do something that helps them and they can do something that helps us. It can be parts, time, products – it's not all about money."
Anyone interested in sponsoring Kyle is encouraged to e-mail either him at email@example.com or his dad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.