Chester-based race team chases its need for speed

Drive Technology, a Chester-based race team, is gearing up for the K & N series’ Blue Ox 100 on Thursday evening at Richmond International Raceway. The goal for team owner Shayne Lockhart and his driver, 19 year old Sam Hunt is to eventually be racing under the lights on Saturday night. The team, comprised of many Chester residents, is poised to do so.

“We’ve got a very dedicated crew; we’re here working to get better,” said Lockhart. “Most of our crew members remain dedicated while balancing full-time jobs and families.”

The crew is led by 1981 Thomas Dale graduate Lockhart and also features 2003 Dale grad and Village News photographer Jesse Vaughan, the team’s tire specialist. Lead mechanic Chris Matthews, graduated from Dale in 1993. Billy Hudson also attended Thomas Dale before graduating from Hopewell, and crew member Rodney Estes is a Chester resident. Driver Sam Hunt hails from Chesterfield County, and graduated from James River.

“It’s important to not only be surrounded with knowledgeable people but people that also genuinely care about your success,” said Hunt. “This team has all of those things.”

Hunt started racing go-karts at the age of six, and in 2007 at the age of 14, he won the Maxxis National Championship for kart racing. In 2009, Hunt won his first late model stock car race. Hunt posted his best finish in the NASCAR K & N series, finishing 6th on April 6 in Greenville, South Carolina. The K & N series is similar to the AA of NASCAR, just a couple of steps from “the show.”

Lockhart met Hunt back in 2008 when Hunt’s family purchased a late model stock car from him. Chesterfield resident and Sam’s kart crew chief Larry Hollowell introduced the two. After becoming friends with the family, Lockhart helped as a spotter as Hunt toured with the K & N series in 2012. In 2013, Lockhart brought Hunt in full-time, seeing great potential in him as a driver.

“Sam is coachable and has good car control,” said Lockhart. “He knows when to push the envelope and when to let off at the right time,” explained Lockhart. “He’s young but he’s been racing now for 13 years,” he continued. “That’s something that is very attractive to potential teams and car owners.”

Lockhart built his own reputation as a local racing legend, winning 64 late model stock car races and qualifying for 72 poles in his career. Racing since 1990, Lockhart still runs races at local tracks at Langley Speedway and Southside Speedway. From 1998-2000, Lockhart raced in what is now called the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Series (Trucks) under NASCAR. Now Lockhart is working to develop Hunt to move to the next level.

“I looked up to Shayne as a driver, and as a role model,” said Hunt. “He’s helped me a great amount with my racing, I’m excited to drive in Richmond on Thursday.”

The thrill of competing driving a race car isn’t comparable to much according to Lockhart and Hunt.

 “Racing is great because you have the adrenaline pumping as hard as it can go and you have to stay focused,” explained Hunt. “You truly have to take control of something that is out of control.”

While a good driver is absolutely necessary for success, Hunt is quick to point out that being the driver is only a fraction of the work.

“I like the fact that this is a team sport,” said Hunt. “I might drive the car but that’s probably only 10 percent of the effort that goes into this thing every race.”

Team work extends beyond each individual team in racing, as teams will often help each other out. Most teams are located in close proximity to Charlotte, North Carolina, deemed as the “hub” of NASCAR. Being located in Richmond has presented some challenges, but team work has helped Lockhart and his crew.

“The preparations that go into this are key,” said Lockhart. “Everyone helps everyone, we’re a big family,” he continued. “But on race day, it’s every man for himself.”

The “every man for himself” mantra only exists on the track, as Lockhart and Hunt have gone out into the community participating in events such as Enon Elementary School’s career day, and making an appearance the Children’s Museum in Richmond this past Monday.

“Giving back to the community is important,” said Lockhart. “It’s giving back to our fans, our sponsors, all the people that support us.”

For updates on Hunt, follow him on twitter @SamHunt22. Get out there and enjoy race weekend, it only comes twice a year. For all of your local sport updates, follow @VNewsSports on twitter.

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