Stefan Parsons was 3 years old when his father, Phil, ended his NASCAR driving career, but the family’s racing genes couldn’t be denied.
Stefan, 15, of Cornelius, began competing in the Bandolero division at Charlotte Motor Speedway at age 12 after his father received encouragement from former NASCAR driver Ken Ragan to let his son race. Two years ago, the nephew of 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) Series champion Benny Parsons moved to the Legend cars’ Young Lions division.
In this year’s recently completed Winter Heat Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the young Parsons won twice and finished second three times in eight races. His 2014 plans include a few Legend races at Concord Motor Speedway’s quarter-mile track and CMS’ Summer Shootout.
“I think we may look at doing some late model stuff at the end of this year,” said Stefan, a student at SouthLake Christian Academy in Huntersville. “Obviously, I would, hopefully, like to make my way up the ranks – late model, K&N, trucks, NASCAR (Nationwide and Cup). Right now I just want to be the best I can be in whatever I’m running at the moment.”
Since Stefan was so young when his father stopped racing in 2001, he never saw him compete. But he was around the race track with him when he became an analyst for the SPEED Channel and now Fox Sports 1. He also has watched tapes of old races and said driving was something that has always interested him. Now, it’s something he and his father can enjoy together.
“He always helps me with my line and other things like that,” Stefan said. “He’ll help me try to get around the track better. We’ll discuss how the car is feeling, how it’s looking. He has always tried to let me know it takes a lot more talent to pass people without knocking them out of the way or hitting them, which I’ve always tried to take to heart.”
Even though Phil travels extensively with the sports network and as a team owner with Phil Parsons Racing, he was able to attend his son’s Winter Heat races since they were held before the 2014 season began. He also gets to attend several of the Summer Shootout races, which are held each Tuesday night during June and July. When he can’t make it, Stefan’s mother, Marcia, is there to support her son.
“Mother gets nervous at times when I’m racing, but we always joke because it seems like when my dad’s off somewhere and he’s not able to come to the race track and my mom is, I always seem to win, so we call her a better crew chief,” Stefan said with a laugh.
Stefan’s car is housed in Concord with Devo Keith preparing it. This year, the teenager plans to focus on “putting races together, thinking about duration and long runs.” He said it’s important for him to learn that he shouldn’t get caught up in “what just happened in one corner,” but to “try to make it so the race will go your way in the long run.”
Of course, Stefan hasn’t lost sight of what his father has told him is important.
“It’s about having fun and performing to one’s best ability,” Stefan said.
IHRA visits Mooresville
The International Hot Rod Association’s Division 9 Pro-Am competitors will visit the Mooresville Dragway March 28-30. This is the IHRA’s only appearance this season at the 1/8-mile dragway.
The Mooresville Dragway’s 2014 season runs through November.
Stevens New Voice of Pro Cup Series
Veteran play-by-play announcer Tony Stevens, who has been the voice of the UARA late model touring series for the past five years, has joined the X-1R Pro Cup Series for the 2014 season. During his career, Stevens also has called the racing action for MRN, Global Rallycross events and the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
GoPro Motorplex Karting Challenge Begins
The in-house racing series and track-based points championship for GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville begins March 9.
The 2014 GoPro Motorplex Karting Challenge is an eight-round series with races being held one weekend a month through October. Cash prizes are paid to the top three finishers in each round in select divisions with the champions at season’s end receiving nearly $11,000 in cash and prizes.