Racing grabbed Hunter Richards’ attention at age 4 ½, but now the 13-year-old Denver, resident has found a way to mix his enjoyment of Brazilian jiujitsu with his love of motorsports.
“I got into it (Brazilian jiujitsu) to strengthen my mind,” Richards said. “It’s like a game of chess. You have to wait to take your chance. It’s helped me to build muscle and helped me plan ahead and know to look for mistakes that the other person might make.”
Richards said the martial art also has helped him develop better focus.
Brazilian jiujitsu is considered a martial art and a sport, and a method for promoting physical fitness and building character. It promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique, taking the fight to the ground, mostly by applying joint-locks and choke holds.
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Since becoming involved in Brazilian jiujitsu, Richards, who possesses a yellow light belt, has won two North American Grappling Association championships.
“He’s been able to promote his racing through the jiujitsu and vice versa,” Richards’ father, Donald, said. “It keeps his mind sharp and gives him more confidence on the track.”
Richards’ grandparents and parents are NASCAR fans, and it was that interest that led the youngster to want to race. He began competing in quarter-midgets at age 4 ½ and remained in that series for four years before moving into the Bandoleros’ Beginner Bandits division at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout.
In his inaugural Bandolero season, the then-8-year-old Richards placed fifth. This year, Richards will compete in the Bandoleros’ Outlaws division and the Legends Young Lions at CMS and Concord Motorsports Park. He also will make his sprint car debut at East Lincoln Speedway.
“I’ll (also) run a street stock at Bowman Gray (Stadium in Winston-Salem) and maybe some limited late model at Hickory,” said the teenager, who cites Dale Earnhardt Jr. as his favorite driver.
In addition to racing and participating in jiujitsu, Richards wrestles at East Lincoln Middle School. He began wrestling after becoming involved in jiujitsu, wanting to participate in that sport because his father had competed in it.
“It’s kinda like jiujitsu so I wanted to try it,” Richards said. “I thought going in they would be very similar, but then come to find out jiujitsu is like a game of chess where you wait to make a move and you can take your time slowly. In wrestling, you can never stop moving. If you stop moving you will be beaten.”
Richards’ Bandolero and Legend cars are maintained at John Holleman Motorsports in Winston-Salem, while he and his father work on his sprint car at their home. He said the two of them would work on the limited late model as well should that debut occur this year.
Richards’ first race this year for his Bandolero and Legend cars is scheduled for March 8 at Concord Motorsports Park.
Skyler Trull Memorial schedule
This year’s Skyler Trull Memorial at Carolina Speedway will be held March 7-8. The first night of racing features a 25-lap UMP Modified race that pays $1,200 to win. The four-cylinders and Renegades will each pay $500 to win that night, while the Front Wheel Drive Hornets will have a $300 prize for the winner.
On the second night of the two-day event, the Carolina Clash Super Late Models will be the main race, paying $4,000 to win. The SECA Late Models will have a $2,000 pirze to win the 30-lap race. The UMP Modifieds will race again, but this time for a $2,000 first-place prize. The street stocks will have a $500 to win race.
Pit gates open at 3 p.m. March 7 with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Racing begins at 8 p.m. The following night the pit gates again open at 3 p.m., with the grandstands opening at 4 p.m. Racing begins at 7 p.m.