Size matters little when you have ‘Sweet’ driving skills
It would have been worth the price of the airfare just to see the looks on the faces of the people in the pits when Grass Valley1s Brad Sweet showed up for the 2002 U.S. Outlaw Mini-Sprint Association Dirt Nationals in Benton, Mo., on Sept. 27.
Those drivers, mechanics and other assorted hangers-on must have had quite a chuckle when the 4-foot, 11-inch, 85 pound Bear River High School junior sauntered in.
3They see a little guy walking around in a driving suit, and they were like (looking and laughing). That happens to me quite a bit, so i1m used to it, and I don1t let it get to me,² Sweet, a five-time area Outlaw Kart champion, said.
Let Oem laugh.
Sweet, his parents Don and Jennifer Sweet, and members of his Van Dyke racing team, knew something those folks obviously didn1t:
This kid can drive.
In his first heat race, Sweet started in the third row, outside.
3I was nervous. I saw a lot of good cars, and I only had eight laps to pass everybody.
The heat (finish) sets you up for the trophy dash and the main so you want to as best you can or you1re kinda screwed for the rest of the night,² he said.
Sweet won eight events on the Bay Cities Racing Association Midget-Lite calendar this year He tore through the pack to take first in his heat race, then stayed hot to take both the trophy dash and “A” main event and its $500 purse.
3In the main, I finally got to start on the front row. At one point, I got passed on lap three, then led the rest of the race,² he said.
One down, one to go.
With Friday1s race in the rear-view mirror, Sweet looked to Saturday and its $2,000 payday.
3In the heat race, I started on the third row again. I think it took me two laps and I was in the lead. I had a ton of confidence,² he said.
Those people who saw Sweet as a punch line the day before had a different attitude that night.
3The people in the pits were so nice to me. They would come up and say, OHi1 and everything,² Sweet said.
Sweet1s winning streak came to an end with a fifth-place finish in the trophy dash. But he qualified for the 25-lap “A” main so he still had a still had a shot at the two grand.
He started three rows back on the inside.
Sweet moved up in the field, but yellow flags kept him out of the lead.
3Every six laps, we1d get a yellow. And I knew I needed at least six laps to catch the leader,² he said.
With two laps to go, Sweet caught then passed the leader.
Sweet held on for the two remaining laps to take the win.
3I got out of the and jumped on the hood and waved the checkered flag. This was the sweetest win of my career,² he said.
Keith Jiron is a sportswriter for The Union. Call him at 477-4244.
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