you could see were the eyes of 14-year-old Alex Kennedy peeking from
under his protective gear. The 500-plus horsepower engine in Alex's
Late Model race car growled as it idled. The blue in his gaze revved up
As the race started, he and several other cars roared off. For a
couple of laps, Alex and the others hit speeds of 100 mph or more on
the straightaways at Sandia Motor Speedway.
Tina Robinson of Estancia cheers during a recent race of the Late Model
cars at Sandia Motor Speedway. Robinson was out to show support for one
of the drivers who is a family friend. Racers with a need for speed
drive the Late Model cars, the fastest ones competing at the Speedway
that night. (Jakob Schiller/Tribune)
His time on the track didn't last. Alex's car and another car collided. The gasp in the stands was audible down in the pits.
Both drivers were OK.
A tow truck hauled them off the track and the race resumed.
When Alex finally climbed out of the car, his mom, Michelle, and
his dad, Terry, were there to make sure he was unscathed after the
crash. Alex pulled off his helmet and a surprisingly boyish face popped
out, rosy cheeks and all.
Kennedy (left), 14, is consoled by Jim Arthur, a member of another race
team, after Kennedy and another driver were involved in a crash during
a Late Model race at Sandia Motor Speedway. Kennedy, a speed junkie,
said: "It just feels so amazing, it's an adrenaline rush for 25 laps."
Kennedy tried to hold back the tears. "That's just a part of racing," his mom said, trying to console her son.
Alex was the youngest person in the race that night. But that
doesn't mean he's a rookie. The race was his fourth this season in the
Late Model cars, the fastest class at the track that night. The race
was one of hundreds that he's driven in since he started racing at age
"It just feels so amazing; it's an adrenaline rush for 25
laps," said Alex, who lives with his family in Aztec, N.M. "I'm nervous
waiting for that green flag, but once it's thrown that all stops, and I
just go racing."
Stone, the head flagman at Sandia Motor Speedway, waves the checkered
flag to end the main race for the night. Speed rules at the raceway,
whose Friday nights are filled with blaring engines as drivers try to
show who can navigate the track in the shortest amount of time. (Jakob
Last year, Alex won 11 championship races in the car class below the
one he's in now. He's currently the youngest driver in his region and
can't wait to try and make the move to NASCAR.
"I've found that I just have a talent, and now, everything that I love is racing," he said.