Leader Blues

Friday, August 11, 2006

SPORTS >> Local family races for fun and future

IN SHORT: Bryan, Kip and Nick Glaze all race in different series around the country. Bryan’s venture in the Hooters Pro-Cup series is a stepping stone for Nick’s racing future.

Leader sports writer

The Glaze family of Austin is building a family tradition in racing, although in many different forms of racing. Brothers Kip, 38, and Bryan, 34, started out racing on dirt in hobbies and modifieds.

Bryan has made the recent move to the Hooters Pro-Cup Southern Series, racing asphalt shows in one of the country’s premier stock-car racing series.

Kip has raced several seasons in the IMCA modifieds around central Arkansas after racing late models in the Georgia and Florida area in the late 90’s up until 2002.

Add Kip’s son, 14-year-old Nick into the mix, and you have three drivers all in the same stable. Nick has spent this season racing primarily in Batesville in the economy-modified division weekly series.

The long-term plan is for Nick to get asphalt experience before he eventually makes his way into the Hooters series. For Bryan, it is a chance to help his nephew gain experience, while carrying out a life-long dream of his own.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Bryan said. “We’re gaining knowledge that Nick can use later on. I don’t know my future in the series, or in the sport in general for that matter.”

Bryan’s first attempt at Hooters racing came last year at Peach State Speedway in Georgia. A practice wreck prevented him from running the race, but he is hoping that a year of learning the car will help him when he returns to the speedway this weekend.

The race after Peach State is the one that Bryan is really anticipating. The Glaze Motorsports team will travel to the famed Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee for a Pro-Cup race the same weekend that the stars of the Nextel Cup series will take to the famed high-bank, one-half mile oval.

“That will be our biggest race of the year by far,” Bryan said. “All of the cup guys will be there, and we will be racing the same day as the Craftsman Truck Series.”

Although he says his racing season is over, Kip is probably the busiest of the trio. Along with helping out son Nick with his e-mod racing, he also serves as a spotter for Bryan on the Hooters side.

The spotter acts as a second set of eyes for a driver in many asphalt divisions. With all of the safety devices that are required around the head and neck, drivers have a hard time seeing what is around them. The spotter communicates a driver’s position via radio, telling him if there are cars alongside him on the outside or inside.

Racing is not the only game in town for the Glaze family. Through their successful family business, Five-Star Airbags in Cabot, they have found a lucrative way to finance their racing endeavors as a hobby, and a potential professional career for Nick.

“I’m too old to make a career out of this,” Kip said. “Nick is still young enough that he can still do it, so I’m going to give him every opportunity that I can.”

It has not been all fun and games for the Glaze family this year. Kip and Nick are just one month out of a tragic accident on their way back from Batesville that not only destroyed a car, it also claimed the life of Nick’s mother. Kip was injured in the accident as well, but says that help from friends and fellow racers have made a big difference.

“I didn’t realize how good of friends we had,” Kip said. “I knew we had a lot of friends, but I didn’t know just how good. The best therapy has been getting Nick back into a car, it helps to keep my mind off of it and has kind of helped to get things back to normal.”

Nick has had a good rookie season in the e-mod division. He has held his own with modified standouts like Jason Wilkey and Jerry Waugh all season, and holds ninth in the season standings despite missing a couple of races. The biggest moment in his career so far came last year in the Beebe mini-stocks, where he won a feature race in just his eighth start. He was technically not eligible to race at the time due to his age, but says what the old track management didn’t know won’t hurt them.

“They can’t get their money back now,” Nick said. “Or the trophy either for that matter. It was an adrenaline rush to win that race, it gave me some bragging rights.”

The tentative plan for next year is for Bryan to continue in the Hooters series while Kip and Nick get asphalt experience in late models and modifieds at Nashville and Birmingham before Nick makes the eventual move to the Hooters series.