We met Rola Hamilton at Primo Ristorante many years ago and knew she had two children who raced Jr. Dragsters.
We thought how cool it would be to go out to Bradenton Motorsports Park (out west on Hwy 64) and watch them, check out the track, and fly one of our drones for some pictures. So, we set up a time we could go and, wow, what a great day!
Rola and her husband, Billy, usually get to the track about 8:30 a.m. with their daughter, Jasmine (16) and their son, Kimoni (10). They haul their kids’ cars in the back of a trailer, along with a grill, chairs, coolers of food and drink, and a big sunshade. After they get the cars out and their site set up it’s time to warm up the cars and get them ready to make 1 or 2 qualifying runs.
And they are not the only ones! There are families all around them from different areas of Florida with similar set ups. The feeling is of one big family camping out for the day! You’ll see people cooking, hanging out with each other, working on cars. If someone in the park needs a tool, they don’t have to go far before they find someone there who can help.
When it’s time to line up to race the excitement is palpable! You feel engine rumblings through your feet and the sound makes your heart race! The racers line up two by two, waiting for their turn up at the starting line. The engines roar! The excitement mounts! And then – they’re off! Racing the 1/8-mile track, two at a time, only one winner!
Jasmine, Rola and Billy’s 16-year-old daughter, started racing when she was 10 years old. She was placed in the intermediate class and has won 4 championships! When she was 13, she was moved up to the advanced class and races in that class now.
Their son, Kimoni, started racing at six years old and went to the finals on his very first race! He has won 4 championships also and dreams of becoming a professional drag racer. The people at the track have given him a nickname – “King of the Track”!
Before each race you will find them in their cars, helmets and other gear on, praying for themselves and the others – that all will get safely to the end.
In case you were wondering, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Both their father and grandfather were drag racers and passed down the love of racing to them.
Rola says, “Being at the racetrack is like being ‘home away from home’. Everyone there comes together when needed.”
We plan on going again when we can stay the whole day! What a great group of folks! Check out their website for all the different races, times and events!
Photos from Sande Caplin & Associates and Rola Hamilton.