Firefighter brings heat to Summer Shootout Series

Kevin Aube was working for Charlotte Motor Speedway's emergency services six years ago when his two passions started on a collision course.

Working as a firefighter at CMS's Summer Shootout series, Aube remembers turning to a friend and telling him that he would like being in one of the race cars ripping around the track. His friend accepted the comment as Aube's pipedream.

A couple years later, Aube bought a used Legends car and began racing in the shootout series. As a City of Kannapolis firefighter, Aube competes under the pseudonym "The Fireman" and tries to raise awareness about his way of life as a firefighter while attempting to win races.

Competing for the third year in the Legends masters division, Aube was ninth in the points standings through six races this season.

A native of Vermont, Aube raced street stock cars for six years in the American Canadian Tour in Waterbury, Vt. Aube (pronounced "O-bee") says he raced in the entry-level division and never stood out among his peers.

Aube moved to North Carolina in 2003 and was hired as a Kannapolis firefighter in 2006. In November 2008, he bought his Legends car for $10,000 and began getting it ready for the 2009 season.

"The first year, I wanted to get my feet wet and learn how to drive the car," said Aube. "What I learned was how to finesse the car, setting it up, there were so many adjustments to it.

"You had to learn the power-to-weight ratio. You could learn how much you could push the car. It was a little different than what I was used to back home. We had high bank tracks and two groove racing."

Results on the track the first year were mediocre. In 26 starts, Aube finished in the top five 10 times, and in the top 10 an additional six times.

Aube spent the 2010 season readjusting the car. He stripped its parts down to the chassis and rebuilt it. In the process, Aube ran an abbreviated schedule.

At first, Aube did all the work himself. Now he works with Wicked Racing's Curt Coffey, who helps him with car set-up every week. Aube's only other crew member is his 13-year-old son, Thomas, who is learning the tricks of the trade as well.

A couple of other fellow Kannapolis firefighters, Tom Blackwelder and Todd Morris, helped him with the car's paint scheme and decals. Its scheme is red with black trim with the number 2 placed inside the standard firefighter's maltese cross shield.

In his first race of the season at Concord Motor Speedway in March, Aube finished second and led a lap for the first time in his Legends car. In another Concord race, he led a race for 11 laps, though he finished in the middle of the pack.

When Aube is off the track, he often likes to make people aware of exactly what it means to be a firefighter. He makes public appearances with his car whenever someone asks.

"The misconception with the public is that we sit around playing cards all day," said Aube. "We have to go through 240 hours of training just to maintain our certification. ... I try to talk to people about the amount of calls we run. We ran over 5,000 calls last year and will probably surpass that this year. We don't want any thanks, we just ask for people to support us."

Aube is hoping he'll get enough sponsorship that will allow him to enter the Summer Shootout Series' second annual Legends Million race on Aug. 1-2. Aube pledges to donate a portion of his winnings to a firefighting-related cause.