Stefan Parsons always had racing on his mind.“I feel like it’s in my blood,” the 15-year-old Cornelius resident said. “I really wanted to do it.”Stefan’s father, Phil, and uncle, Benny, raced in NASCAR. So Stefan grew up around the sport and wanted to be part of the family business.In 2010, Stefan made his racing debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout. He was hooked.“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “This is where everybody wants to come. It’s the best competition in the U.S.”Phil Parsons has enjoyed seeing Stefan grow up as a driver. Stefan moved up to drive a Legends car this year after competing in the Bandolero divisions during the past three summers.“He’s obviously not been doing this long, but he has a pretty good head on his shoulders,” said the 1988 Winston 500 winner at Talladega. “He’s smart, he misses a lot of wrecks, but he’s aggressive when time comes to be aggressive.”Stefan, a rising sophomore at SouthLake Christian Academy, tries to keep a cool head on the track. He said being patient can only make him a better driver.“It takes more talent to pass somebody without touching them,” he said.Phil doesn’t know where Stefan gets that from.“Maybe from his uncle Benny,” he said.Benny, who passed away in 2007, saw plenty of success during his career, winning the 1975 Daytona 500 and 20 other races. “The Professor,” the 1973 Winston Cup champion, was named one of NASCAR’s 50 all-time greatest drivers in 1988.But Stefan doesn’t let the family name put unnecessary pressure on him.“I try not to think about it too much,” Stefan said. “I just try to be like them.”Phil, now an analyst for SPEED, is glad his son doesn’t feel the pressure. From Day 1, he told Stefan that all he wanted was for him to have fun and to do his best.“I love seeing him have some success,” Phil said. “But success isn’t necessarily him winning every race. Success is learning. … There’s plenty of time to get serious.”Growing up in Michigan, Phil didn’t have the opportunity to start racing until he was 20. Despite his lack of knowledge of youth racing, Phil tries to give his son advice when he can.“These cars are different than anything I’ve ever driven,” Phil said. “But I still try to watch drivers that run extremely well and then watch him to give him some pointers.”The father-son duo watch footage from a pair of GoPro cameras mounted behind Stefan’s seat and on the windshield of his No. 98 car to look for ways to avoid bad situations on the track and to improve.With the 20th annual Summer Shootout getting started, Stefan hopes to keep improving. Some of the best Bandolero and Legends drivers will continue to compete in the series through July 30 at the quarter-mile oval inside the speedway’s front stretch.After placing sixth and 12th in the Shootout’s first two races in the Legends Young Lion division, Stefan wouldn’t mind seeing some more success.“I want to impress,” he said. “I want to be consistent and get a couple of wins.”
Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013
Young driver learns at Summer Shootout
Want to go? The 20th annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series will continue on Tuesdays through July 30 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Racing will also take place on July 29. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and free for children 13 and younger.
Tovar: 704-358-5941; Twitter: @sergiotovar
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