Hayden Matt and Chance Harms have no problem making the haul down U.S. Highway 40 from Hot Sulphur Springs to Hayden. The brothers load up their families and their pair of modified open-wheel racers into a custom 52-foot semitrailer rig for a taste of summer time speed. After the 95-mile drive, Matt Harms is eager to fulfill his racing fix by tearing up the fastest laps he can on the 1/4-mile dirt track at the Hayden Speedway, two miles south of town.
Despite it being Matt Harms "rookie" season racing, he had a solid 10-lap heat race, finishing third to advance to the main 20-lap championship race at Saturday night's Street Shock Showdown, round two.
"I think I can win this thing," Matt Harms said. "We're gonna try."
Chance didn't fare as well, getting into a wreck with Matt Beckett that tore the entire side panel off his modified car, leaving nothing but chassis exposed. But with half an hour until the main event, the Harms were busy bending the sheet metal sides of the car back together.
"It's gets expensive being an adrenaline junkie," Chance Harms joked as he slammed rivets into place.
The Harms family business, Harms & Sons Excavation was the night's title sponsor, and Matt Harms believes much of the business at speedway events is family.
"The kids get more excited than I do, everyone's real decent here - there's not many places where you can take your kids," he said.
It was easy for Harms' four-year-old daughter, Nicole, to pick here favorite part of the races: "Staying up until midnight," she exclaimed.
Jeremy Lueck is 29 now, but he can remember being the kid watching his father, Paul, race the track in Hayden in the late 70s.
Jeremy Lueck started racing when he was 16, followed by years of successful finishes at similar dirt tracks across Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. After 13 straight seasons, the Craig resident wrapped up the 2004 track championship in Hayden and took a two-year hiatus, returning this summer at his father's urging. Lueck's No. 75 car won its modified heat race by nearly half a lap as his 9-year-old son Ryan looked on, imaging when he'd be able to race sprint cars.
"Why? Cause it's the fastest thing on dirt," Ryan Lueck said.
Although the racers can only hope to break even with modest prize money reserved for the winner and Lueck admits to putting "40 hours a week" into his car, the feeling of dirt racing gets in, and stays in the racers' blood.
"It's just an adrenaline rush to go fast and be better than everyone," Lueck said. "You work the throttle to steer and just carry the speed around the corner - I wouldn't race asphalt, that's for getting here. Dirt's for racing."
Spectators have only three more chances this summer to pull up a chair on the east-facing hill overlooking the lit-up track, on Aug. 4, 17 and 25. Visit www.haydenspeedway.com for more details.