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At N.Y. Speedway, Families Join Dreams Of Race Glory


To the daredevils of motor sports now - stock car racers. The Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, New York - racing takes on a hometown feel. North Country Public Radio's Sarah Harris went to an early season race and has our story.

SARAH HARRIS, BYLINE: At the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, it's all stock car racing all day.


HARRIS: Drivers and their pit crews are checking their tire pressure, revving their motors, and gearing up to race. Colleen Salisbury is working on her bright pink stock car. She's one of two female racers at Airborne.

COLLEEN SALISBURY: I've had, you know, people come up and say it's really cool that you're doing it, but there have been times at the track when I can tell a guy just doesn't want me to pass him and would rather take me out than let me go by.

HARRIS: Colleen's adult brothers Rod and Randy Salisbury are helping out as she gets ready. At Airborne, racing's a family affair. The bleachers are packed with people anxiously watching their relatives as the races get under way. Lonnie Favreau is pacing in front of the stands and cheering wildly for his brother Robbie.

LONNIE FAVREAU: That's it. That's it. Use that car. That's it, bro. Go for it. One more and you're in the top three.

HARRIS: I meet up with Lonnie, Robbie, and Robbie's 19-year-old daughter Margo after the race. Margo likes sharing the sport with her dad.

MARGO FAVREAU: I hear about it, like, all day, every day, and he just - he loves it, so he puts his heart into it when he does it.

ROBBIE FAVREAU: Well, I went to plenty of her soccer games and stuff like that, basketball games, so I think this is just a payback.

HARRIS: Racing is not just about family and friends. It's also a high-risk contest. On the day I visit, one car catches on fire and firefighters and EMTs swoop in. Everyone assures me that the cars are really safe, but guys like Kurt Giventer - who everybody knows as Metal Man - have war stories to tell.

KURT GIVENTER: Back in the '60s, these things were brightly painted, loud, unsafe jalopies, roundy-round and upside down. And I went upside down one night, wound up over the fence, into the catch fence, the whole car just came apart; the roll cage disintegrated. I survived.

HARRIS: Metal Man owns a towing company. He made his entire car out of salvaged parts.

GIVENTER: Junk is beautiful. Says it on the back of the car. It's all made out of used parts. It's very low dollar. That's why I run towards the back.

HARRIS: When Metal Man steps on the gas, he relies on a few basic principles.

GIVENTER: Turn. Go fast and turn left. Have a good time, don't hit nobody, and don't let nobody hit you.

HARRIS: And that seems to be the spirit here at Airborne. Go fast and have a good time - that's exactly what the drivers do, zooming around again and again, till dusk settles over the track.


HARRIS: For NPR News, I'm Sarah Harris.


SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

North Country Public Radio/Champlain Valley reporter for the Innovation TrailSarah Harris covers the Champlain Valley for Innovation Trail. She was an assistant teacher for the first class of the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Sarah's work has aired on NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. Sarah is a 2010 recipient of the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, has lived abroad in the Maldives and Nepal, and is a graduate of Middlebury College.