For most people in the Sequim/Port Angeles area, it was just another day. The only special sense of the day was that the air-brushed warm gray sky brought the first hint of spring to those who ventured out. Most people went about their business of enjoying a nice day with hopes that our mild winter was behind us and summer was just around the corner.
But not Joshua Henderson Jr. You see, March 20 was the first day for Port Angeles Speedway to open its gates to the race-starved gearheads of the Sequim/Port Angeles area. Play Day they call it. It is a time to just have fun and bring out the freshly painted cars and see what they can do.
Joshua Henderson Jr. has just turned 14. He does not have to try to sneak into the pits anymore to get his racing fix.
In his words; "You can't holler at me anymore for being in here." He is legal. Not only that, but it was on this day that he got his first shot at driving a race car on a real race track. When asked what he thought of his first shot at taking to the track on a practice lap, he replied, "What an adrenaline rush."
Joshua is a third-generation racer. His grandfather, who used to race, was in the grandstand watching while his dad, Joshua Henderson Sr., was wrenching and Joshua Jr. was zoning out on the good feelings of mastering his No. 96 A-1 Auto Parts-sponsored Honda CRX. Three generations of Hendersons are sharing the love of a sport that has kept them close as a family.
Port Angeles Speedway has two classes of hornet race cars that run there on a
regular basis. The Junior Class that Joshua will participate in is for ages 14-18 and there is a senior class for the 18 and up drivers. There is another class of hornets on the books, but not enough women are interested in participating in the Queen Bee Class as of yet.
For one 14-year-old, March 20, 2010, always will be a special day; a day that took the efforts of the whole family to make it happen. His dad rebuilt the motor that his uncle in the No. 12 hornet gave them. Joshua did most of the mechanical work that was needed and painted the car the hornet-class-required yellow. I got the feeling he would have preferred another color; probably intimidator black. The amazing thing is, he probably will have two years of racing experience under his belt by the time he is eligible for a driver's license.
One week later, Joshua got his chance to test his skills against real race situations. If I ever questioned the future of auto racing, those fears were put to rest March 27 as I watched two junior hornet drivers put on the best show I have witnessed for many years. Dustin Beck and Joshua Henderson Jr. drove like seasoned veterans. The sport is in good hands. Way to go, guys.