Craig racers get in gear in regional events | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig racers get in gear in regional events

Mike Bingham, Brodey Gutierrez hope to continue summer in sport

Mike Bingham, right, and friend and fellow auto enthusiast Jadon Coutts lean on Bingham's racecar in his garage north of Craig. The teenager recently purchased the vehicle and has raced in Hayden and Vernal, Utah, so far this summer.

Dale Earnhardt, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty and other legends behind the wheel had to get their start somewhere, and Craig teenagers Mike Bingham and Brodey Gutierrez have got their minds set on racing toward the kind of greatness these men achieved.

Bingham and Gutierrez are among the Northwest Colorado residents who have hit the track at Hayden SpeedwayHayden Speedway this summer, burning rubber in the pursuit of points and the thrills that come with being in the driver’s seat of a racecar. this summer, burning rubber in the pursuit of points and the thrills that come with being in the driver's seat of a racecar.

Hayden Speedway this summer, burning rubber in the pursuit of points and the thrills that come with being in the driver's seat of a racecar.

Bingham, soon to be a senior at Moffat County High School, only began in the pursuit this year, purchasing a rig from a supplier out of Sidney, Nebraska earlier this summer. In the Bingham family, the sport is a tradition, as is the number on the cars they drive.

"My family's been racing forever, my great-grandpa, my grandpa, my dad, they all had double-zero," he said.

The 00 painted atop the car's roof and on the driver's side panel is one of many adornments, including the family name that shows his parents' support and sponsorship decals by Hatten Enterprises and Skroch Brothers. The black body of the IMCA — International Motor Contest Association — modified vehicle is also caked in a good amount of dried mud from its recent races, a badge of honor for those who drive.

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So far, Bingham has stayed close to home with races in Hayden and a recent venture in Vernal, Utah, but the radius will soon be growing.

"We're gonna be going to Rock Springs (Wyoming) and Fort Morgan and I think in November, we'll go to Vegas for a big show there," Bingham said. "That is, if the car's still in one piece."

An upcoming set of races this Saturday in Hayden are ones Bingham and fellow racer Gutierrez will have to sit out.

While on the track July 30 at Vernal's Diamond Mountain SpeedwayDiamond Mountain Speedway, the two were neck and neck near the finish line when their close proximity suddenly became a problem. Bingham’s engine suffered some minor damage, while Gutierrez said the bolts on his steering column snapped as a result of the two cars striking each other, causing him to lose control., the two were neck and neck near the finish line when their close proximity suddenly became a problem. Bingham's engine suffered some minor damage, while Gutierrez said the bolts on his steering column snapped as a result of the two cars striking each other, causing him to lose control.

Diamond Mountain Speedway, the two were neck and neck near the finish line when their close proximity suddenly became a problem. Bingham's engine suffered some minor damage, while Gutierrez said the bolts on his steering column snapped as a result of the two cars striking each other, causing him to lose control.

"It shot me off the track, and I went for a pretty good ride," Gutierrez said.

His momentum slowed quickly as he plowed the car into a pole, and though he was not injured, the same could not be said of the auto.

"It could have been way worse," he said.

Gutierrez, a recent MCHS graduate, said he has been racing for about three years, and though his current set of wheels is out of commission, he won't be off the track for long as he searches for new equipment.

"We're just trying to find the right one so we're not wasting money," he said, noting finding a reliable chassis is a must.

Now that he's out of school, the thought of racing cars professionally is a possibility he'd like to make happen.

"I'm going to try to make it as far as I can, keep pushing it," he said.

Bingham also hopes to make it big in the sport, adding the amount of experience varies among drivers, with some having already logged years with their foot on the gas pedal and boasting much larger financial backing, but all that tends to fall away on a personal level.

"It's like a second family out there, everybody treats each other really well," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.