Piedmont Profile: 9-year-old Lucas Hedrick feels need for speed
By Nathan Hardin
When asked his favorite part of racing, 9-year-old Lucas Hedrick answers as fast as he drives.
“Winning,” he says without hesitation.
And for Lucas, winning is familiar territory.
In 2005, he began racing quarter midgets, and by 2008, he claimed the N.C. Quarter Midget Association Championship.
In quarter midgets, he’s accumulated 12 victories with another 10 second-place results.
And now, Lucas is trying his hand at Bandolero racing.
His parents, Phillip and Jamie Hedrick, have always encouraged him to do what he enjoys.
“When he was 4 years old, I let him choose whether he wanted to play T-ball or race,” Phillip Hedrick said. “He told me he wanted to race.”
With the cars weighing almost four times as much as quarter midgets, Bandolero racing is a whole new world to the Hedricks. And that brings several new elements to racing that require Lucas to adjust.
“The Bandoleros run around 60 mph and some tracks force cars to have restrictor plates,” explained Justin Hill, crew chief for the race team that works with Lucas. “It’s a good stepping stone to the legend cars.”
Increasing speed may mean increasing risk, and Phillip Hedrick doesn’t deny the sport’s inherent danger.
“Yeah, racing’s dangerous. But football’s dangerous too,” Phillip said. “He wears the HANS device (a head and neck restraint), and we put safety first.”
The Hedricks’ racing trailer hauls their two quarter midgets and two Bandolero cars as far as Georgia to compete.
“As long as he’s having fun and willing to learn, we’ll keep doing it,” Phillip said.
That could mean seeking help with the costs. The Hedricks are one of the unsponsored racing teams and a new Bandolero can cost up to $7,500.
“We’re managing unsponsored for now, but if we go any further we’ll have to find a sponsor,” Phillip said.
Lucas, a rising fourth-grader at Morgan Elementary, has three races remaining in the Summer Shootout Series at Lowes Motor Speedway.
“I get nervous, but he loves it, so I love it,” Jamie Hedrick said. “I guess it’s just a mother’s instinct.”
And for Lucas, winning isn’t all he loves about racing.
“When I’m at the track, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family,” Lucas said.
As the race time approaches, the young driver’s demeanor changes, enjoyment turning to focus.
“Before the race I think about how am I going to dodge a wreck or how am I going to have a good start,” Lucas explained.
“He’s mature for his age,” Phillip Hedrick said. “Racing’s matured him.”
Each race isn’t just a go-cart ride to Lucas. It’s a learning experience.
“After the race he’ll go straight to Justin Hill and tell him what the problem is,” Phillip said. “He can pretty much diagnose the problem.”
Outside of racing, Lucas and his father have a close relationship and often spend afternoons tubing and fishing.
“He’s just a typical, outdoor little boy,” Phillip said.
To learn more about Lucas, visit his Web site at www.lucashedrickmotorsports.com.