Young racer fuels NASCAR dreams


— A young racer fulfils his NASCAR dreams after years of paying his dues at rural dirt tracks across America.

Chad Corken would like that to be his story one day, but for now, the 18-year-old Highlands Ranch racer still is in the paying-dues stage, and his latest stop was Friday at the Hayden Speedway.

Corken's trailer in the speedway's pits drew eyes for many reasons. There was his bright red, open-wheel sprint car sitting outside and the young Corken himself, juxtaposed against older racers, some a few times his age. A closer look, however, revealed maybe the most intriguing thing about Corken's camp: It was staffed almost completely by family.

"I'm his No. 1 fan," said grandmother Shirley Corken as she grilled burgers outside the trailer.

Corken has been racing for seven years. Once he got in a go-kart as a child and raced for the first time, "I knew that's what I wanted to do." He said his family has been supportive all the way, traveling with him to 30 races a year and doing all they can to facilitate his dream of being discovered and landing on the NASCAR circuit.

"We sure do enjoy traveling around with him," grandfather Rich Corken said.

The modest Corken had to be prompted by his father, Jay, to recount some of his early accomplishments. Among them, Corken placed eighth out of 220 drivers at the Red Bull Driver Search in California. When he's not racing, Corken works at his father's body shop. His mom, who normally travels with the rest of the family, was not in Hayden on Friday because she was watching over the shop.

Corken, just back from an enlarged spleen that kept him out of a race car for four weeks, was hoping for a better result than his only other trip to Hayden last year, when a mishap led to his car's entire floor pan being ripped out. The enlarged spleen was not caused by racing, but could have been worsened by it.

"If I got hit or something, it could have ruptured," Corken said.

Corken had quite the audience to show off his driving skills to on Friday. More than 7,000 fans - an above average crowd according to speedway staff - crowded the hillside overlooking the track.


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