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Races at Sandia Motor Speedway are a rush for spectators, drivers

Races at Sandia Motor Speedway are a rush for spectators, drivers

By Jakob Schiller
Tribune Reporter

July 7, 2006

All 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 simultaneously.

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.

Fifteen-year-old 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.

Alex 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." (Jakob Schiller/Tribune)

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 5.

"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."

Bruce 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 Schiller/Tribune)

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.

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