Ballenger follows in father's and grandfather's footsteps
Dusty Ballenger has been racing sprint cars for the last twenty years, most of them with a shadow.
"She's been with me in the pits ever since she was just a little tyke. The passion that she shows for sprint car racing is just over the top and a lot higher than most adults I race." Dusty says.
Watching her dad become a championship driver certainly helped Bayley Ballenger fall in love with racing.
"The very first one my dad one I just went up and gave him a big hug and everybody was just so happy. Just the adrenaline rush and just all the fans and everybody coming together, it's just really awesome." Bayley says.
And made it pretty easy to figure out what she wanted to do when she got her learner's permit at age 14.
"He (Dusty) was a little surprised when I actually wanted to do it for real. My mom, she didn't really like the idea a whole lot, but she kind of knew that I was going to do it and that's just what was going to happen!" Bayley says.
"This is a crash course in Driver's Ed right here." Dusty says.
Each week of Bayley's first season racing season starts with her working alongside Dusty on their cars in the family garage in Harrisburg.
"She likes to work on the cars, she likes to learn about it. When she gets out of the car every night she wants to know what she can do to be faster." Dusty says.
And ends with them racing alongside each other at I-90 Speedway in Hartford.
"Mind over matter with it. My first night when I went out there I spun out and went off the track and it scared the heck out of me. But we went right back out there and I just kind of had that drive, like, don't let it get you down." Bayley says.
"I'm pretty sure I got ulcers because I was so nervous. I know there's going to rough patches, there's going to be crashes. That's part of it. She has the best safety equipment money can buy." Dusty says.
It also helps to have another Ballenger with her in the pits, grandpa and former champion Steve.
"Told Bayley I'll be here every Saturday night until you get on your feet and get comfortable and give her the confidence to get back on the track and go again." Steve says.
It's all helping this third generation driver feel comfortable in a sport that's often male driven.
"I just feel like I've been around it so much I just guess I'm used to seeing all these big guys get in these cars and I figured why can't I?" Bayley says.
And why her dream is to one day race in the World of Outlaws. For now, though, Bayley's slowing down to learn and prepare for the time when she'll have to pass her dad....
"Definitely would if I had the chance!" Bayley says.
"I've mysteriously spun out before so it could happen again!" Dusty says.
"Bayley would probably win it one way or another. If it was me or Dusty one and two one of us might end up in the fence!" Steve says.
...to reach victory lane.
Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.