Driver of the Week: Balto Gilmore
Just one year ago, if I had asked Balto Gilmore what he thought about racing, he may have shyed away and may not answered me at all. Today when I asked Balto Gilmore what he thought about racing, he confidently told me, just about everything. Young Balto Gilmore, our other 16-year-old hobby stock rookie, and “driver of the week” has gained a great deal of confidence since he started driving a race car. His mother shared that he has always been kind of quiet and kind of shy but now that he is behind the wheel of his 1972 Camaro displaying the #20G, he is gaining a new identity.
Balto started racing hobby stock for the first time at the beginning of the racing season. He is not quite as high in points as he would like to be, but that is mostly due to a major breakdown in the car. This caused him to miss the first 5 races which really set him back in points. Balto has already taken 1st in a heat race competing against several experienced drivers who are much older than him. What Balto likes most about driving is that it is really fun and exciting. Isn’t everything fun when your sixteen? His friends help him get motivated to race each week by challenging him at home on video games, like the Outlaw Sprints and other racing games. Balto started driving at a very young age. He drove go-karts when he was 5 out at the airport where there was lots of room. He didn’t drive again until he was 13 1/2. He drove go-karts at Altimont in a division called Briggs Jr. II. Where he won a main event. He has over 20 trophies to show for all of his many accomplishments.
His Dad motivated him and encouraged him to drive at Chowchilla Speedway. His Dad used to drive street stock in Merced several years back. To watch his Dad at the track is also very entertaining. He tries hard not to look too concerned but it is hard to disguise, when your son is out on the track being pushed and shoved around by other drivers. Racing is rubbing, and rubbing is racing. Balto feels that he has had his share of experiencing the meaning of that. Between his inexperience, and the inexperience of others, things are bound to happen. One such incident happened a couple of weeks ago. Balto had won his heat race and was feeling very confident towards winning the main event. After the green flag, Balto’s car got loose down the back straightaway. As it turned in, his car went sideways. Two other cars pushed his car all the way to the end of the straightaway and into turn 3 sending him almost over the hill. Balto’s racing was done for the night. It was discouraging to him, since the night started out so well in the heat race. The reason I share this is because Balto felt the need to share a happy ending to this story. One of the drivers who he had tangled with was #3 Jay Jay. Jay made several attempts to apologize to both Balto and his Dad. To me that was a very kind gesture on his part. Even though it was just racing, Jay felt it was important for them to know that nothing was done intentionally. I see this kind of integrity in the drivers at Chowchilla more than any other track I’ve been to. Balto and his Dad were grateful to know that there were other drivers out there considerate enough to take the time to acknowledge their concern for one another. The following week when Balto went to pay his entry fee, he was blown away by the fact that another driver had already paid his entry fee for him. Later that night he found out that the driver who paid it was none other than Jay Jay. One of the best things that Balto said he liked about Chowchilla was all the people and the other drivers. This is just an example of the many kind gestures we see exchanged between drivers at Chowchilla Speedway. It is these kinds of courtesies shared between drivers that keep them coming back to race every week.
Balto is 16, and he is a sophomore at Golden Valley High School. With school finished for the year, Balto has lots of time to work on his car,a long with his Dad, Marky Rome, and Tilly Dilly. Balto says sometimes they work on the car 7 days a week, and that’s not an exaggeration. You can find these guys also in the pits each Friday making sure everything comes together for Balto. Balto’s big goal for this year at the moment is to win a hobby stock main event. Balto concentrates mostly on avoiding wrecks, and on driving clean. Besides his dad as a mentor, Balto also claims Jimmy Butler as a role model…that’s 2 out of 2. Jimmy, you must be doing something well. It must be great having these young kids look up to you. Jimmy advised him to drive smooth & clean, and not to drive over his head. Balto also likes driving for the fans. He feels they are very important to the drivers. He would really like to see an increase in the car counts, especially in street stock. I think the main reason Balto drives for the fans is because he has a huge fan club that really motivates him. His biggest one I think would be his Mom. Sitting next to her you can find both sets of his grandparents. That is quite a fan club you have already established Balto, good job! Balto would like to thank his sponsors!
Next week, we are updating our pricing table. If you’re planning on attending, then make sure to give it a look! Sorry for the late notice.