Good Sports: Madera Speedway

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Any given day that you visit Madera Speedway, there's a good chance you'll see the future stars of NASCAR.

"We wanted to create a situation where not only could we make the speedway very popular but we could create a Triple-A kind of training grounds for the drivers, and that's what we've done," said Madera Speedway owner Kenny Shepherd.

Shepherd is a former driver who, after his career came to an end, saw the chance to innovate.

"There's such a demand on the drivers, at 16 years of age they have to be turning key and ready to win at the highest level of NASCAR," he said. "Well, how in the world do you do that without full-size training?"

In 2016 he opened the Junior Late Model Series where for the first time a ten-year-old could race in a full-size, 3,000 pound, 500 horsepower stock car.

Suddenly drivers from across the country were flocking to Madera.

"I'm Tyler Reif, and I'm ten years old, but I'm about to turn eleven in 15 days," the young driver told ABC30. He is one of 32 drivers who, along with his older brother Tanner, come once a month from Las Vegas for a race that is broadcast on MAV TV.

"It's fun there's a lot of competition but when it comes down to whoever is winning we make it like we're not brothers and just try to race each other," Tanner said.

Both are chasing a career in the sport, and on top of trying to manage the track, they're looking to navigate the halls of junior high.

The series isn't open to everyone. Drivers need to have the right pedigree and history of racing at a high level to be given a chance.

A first of its kind series that's helping to build future stars in the sport, that's also helping Madera along the way.

"As we know the valley, we're not poor, but we're not the richest place so bringing all those 100 dollar bills and packing every motel is sold out right now, so it means a lot to the community, and it means a lot to these drivers," Shepherd said.
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