Douglas M. Hoy
A mother, witnessing an accident with her son at the wheel, immediately leaps to her feet and runs full bore to the site of the wreck. She makes it there in record time. Her 11-year-old son, Caiden is being pulled out of the car, his racecar. Much damage had been done to the frame.
Undaunted, there was a big smile on Caiden’s face as he mandatorily walked to the ambulance for a checkup.
This accident was not typical, in fact quite rare. Actually it was young Caiden Bailey’s first real crash in his burgeoning three-year racing career. Yet almost every Friday night you can watch Charlotte’s own Caiden Bailey enjoying his love of oval track racing. Truthfully, racing is not the ordinary hobby one would associate with a quiet, polite and mild-mannered young lad. Nevertheless, per his mom, when Caiden puts on his racing suit he is a different person and she cheers him on as he pushes his car around the track at speeds up to 65 miles-per-hour.
Caiden told me he got into racing when one day his grandfather came to him and asked if he would like to give racing a try. Caiden thought, “this could be fun.” So, they packed up the recently purchased racecar and headed out to Mason’s Corrigan Oil Speedway. He was given a couple of practice laps on the track (his first two laps ever), before his first race. And that is how it began three years ago.
Caiden did well his first year, finishing a most respectable third in his Bandolero division. The next year he won that same division. For this he was rewarded by being moved up one rung on the ladder to the Senior Bandolero’s to begin this, his third season. He is doing well in a division in which the speeds are a bit faster and his competitors have more experience. He understands all of this is just part of the learning curve and as soon as he turns 14, he wants to move up to the next level.
As you might guess, all of the racing, even at this level, takes money. It is an expensive hobby. The Hurricane Caiden team started with Howe family backing and five sponsors. Since that beginning less than three years ago, the sponsorship has grown to 15, with two more coming about in the near future. The competition for sponsors is just as keen as the race itself. Having a talented driver who wins races is essential in pursuit of those valuable sponsors.
Race day is long – even at this level. Friday starts early, loading up the car and gear to be at the track long before the 3 p.m. opening. Once the car is unloaded and readied by his volunteer crew of four, Caiden with his race suit on, sits into the constrictive cockpit and goes through his routine. All items helmet/harness/Han’s device/gloves/ear plugs with radio receiver must be worn. Then the flick of two toggle switches and a push on the start button the engine roars to life. Caiden is ready for his practice laps. One tries to get in as many practice rounds as possible at eight laps per practice round. Then the race cycle begins. There are usually 6 to 8 divisions and Caiden’s division is one of the first to go. You have your “heat” races in the first half of the night, which sets you up for the feature races after the intermission. During the intermission, Caiden walks through the crowd and grandstands to speak with the patrons, answer questions and to sign autographs. His mother, Keisha told me most times race day runs until 1 or 2 a.m. of the next day. It can become an exhausting hobby.
Caiden even has his own Facebook page on which you can follow his success.
Caiden loves racing but tells me he is also eyeing moto-cross. He has a bike and is getting accustomed to it. But, he said he feels that is still a couple years away. Right now, he is very happy racing the #4 Beacon Sales racecar until the season is over.
Even after 18 Friday night races, Caiden says the end of the seasons comes too quickly.