The 2019 stock car racing season is quickly approaching, and local racers are revving up to hit the track.
Kayden Clark, who entered the sport late in last year’s season, has added a new 602 crate engine to his 1979 Camaro, which he named the Taker, straight from GMC in Kamloops and gave his car a sharper look with a brand new wrap.
“Now it’s got 50 more horsepower, this new engine is a 350 horse,” said Clark.
“We also fixed the suspension to make the car tighter, just making it easier to handle.”
Clark added that heading into the new season is a little bit nerve-wracking because this time around more racers are coming from places like Agassiz and Vancouver to take part, so there’ll be more competition in each class, but he’s been steadily improving as a driver and has a small track on his property to practice on.
Last year he took Rookie of the Year despite entering the season late, and though his first race didn’t go so well, getting a black flag for causing too many cautions, by the end of the year he came in first place twice, second place four times and had two third place wins, bringing home four trophies and some cash prizes.
“The majority of it I got in the top three, but some races I had car issues and didn’t finish the race,” he said previously. “At one point I blew two tires and I was in the air most of the time, instead of on the track. I did a couple of Dukes of Hazards.”
Clark added he became interested in the motorsport from watching his father, Rusty Clark, as well as his grandfather race on the old Clearwater track when he was a kid.
Clark’s father Rusty agreed the family has been racing for a long time, and that’s one of the reasons why he’s encouraging the next generation to get involved.
Rusty said perhaps if enough local youth are encouraged to take an interest in racing and going to Merritt, where the races take place, the old Clearwater track can be revived.
“It’s sure nice to see these young Clearwater boys working hard learning the mechanics of these cars and the driving fundamentals that they need this early in life,” said Rusty.
“It would be nice to see more kids and adults get involved with this racing.”
This year Clark is dedicating his season to his mom’s brother, Darren Welyk Veach, who a passed away and used to race locally.
Clark has Veach’s name stenciled on the side of his Camaro among his many sponsors, which include SS Brushing (Brad Warner), Clearwater Towing, Dunrite Auto, Eddy’s Garage Bar and Grill, Clearwater Radiator and Clearwater Gateway Grill.
The first race weekend takes place at the Merritt Speedway on May 18 and 19—keep an eye on future editions of the Times for more on local racers.