For Kentucky's Keeton Hanks, There Are Miles To Go ...
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
It was a Legends brochure that Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark sent to Keeton Hanks six years ago that started the whole thing. Hanks, now 14, still has that brochure. It makes the 1,000-mile round trip with him and his family each week as they travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway and other track around the Southeast.
Hanks and his family, natives of Auburn, Ky., travel almost 15 hours a week to race his Legends car and purse the dream that Clark unwittingly instilled in him six years ago.
¿It helps me a lot that I have a family who will take me all over the place to race,¿ Hanks said. ¿I¿m very lucky.¿
He had intended to be on the road even more this season, skipping around to lots of different tracks in the Southeast. But he started off hot at the Nashville track and is now leading the Semi-Pro division in points - ¿and when you¿re leading the points, you can¿t give that up.¿
Not only is Hanks leading the points at Nashville, he¿s been dominating the Semi-Pro division there. In seven races this season, Hanks has taken the checkered flag six times, and was leading the seventh before a lapped car knocked him out of contention.
Atlanta, however, has already proven to be a challenge for Hanks. In his first race last Thursday, Hanks ran in the middle of the pack, finishing seventh of 18 drivers.
¿We changed everything,¿ Hanks said before last week¿s race. ¿And what gets me is that we made all of these drastic changes and it¿s not changing the car at all. Nashville has banking, and here the track is so flat and the turns are so tight it gives me a different view. It¿s great experience for me, but it¿s hard to set-up the car.¿
Ever since the Hanks family paid a visit to a motocross track more than a decade ago, Keeton Hanks has known racing was the sport for him. He has never played baseball or football, and he¿d rather work in the garage than play video games. The bands on his braces are even the same neon red as his car.
Hanks¿ goal is to eventually run in Winston Cup like his favorite drivers Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch, and he will take a step closer to that when he makes his first laps in a late model stock car later this year.
¿We just got a late model, but right now it¿s stripped down to the chassis,¿ Hanks said. ¿We¿re working on it when we¿re not driving between tracks and we¿re going to be testing at tracks that don¿t have an age restriction before the end of the year.¿
That will be even more miles for Hanks and his family - and the Legends brochure - to travel.
You can see Hanks and all the other budding stars of Thursday Thunder racing each Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gates open at 6 p.m. and action begins immediately. Feature races begin at 7:30 p.m. and conclude by 10:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Gate 13 on event nights, and adults are just $5, children 6-11 $1 and children 5 and under are free.