It doesn’t come as a startling revelation that capturing a championship in any category at New England Dragway is the result of determination, skill and hard work. This year’s Indy Auto Parts Super Pro Champion Ray Knight is the epitome of those attributes. Ray has been part of the New England Dragway racing community for decades, recognized by his peers as one of the toughest drivers on the track. But, if you ask him about the most thrilling aspect of this year’s hard fought battle you will not hear stories about margins of victories measuring in the ten-thousandths or near perfect reaction times. Instead he will tell you it’s the opportunity to share the podium with his son Steven who captured the E.C.O.P.E. Junior Dragster crown.
Steven started coming to the track shortly after he was born. His mother Nancy would wheel his stroller to the grandstands and watch Ray battle week in and week out for the coveted championship. You would think that his was a natural progression into the Junior Dragster ranks, but it took Steven a while to warm up to the idea of competition. He was a bit timid at first. Yet, once he became comfortable in the cockpit the young Mr. Knight’s DNA took over and he emerged as a tough competitor in his own right.
According to Ray their anticipation for the 2014 season seemed different than previous years. While they always dreamed of each winning their respective categories this year felt different. There was an underlying feeling among the tight knit family that this could be the year they both earned championship hardware. Steven reinforced that when he set the tone on May 4, picking up the first of three eliminator wins in 2014. Ray was going rounds in Super Pro and accumulating points, keeping pace with Steven. Not an easy task considering he was working as Steven’s crew chief and then rushing back to the pits in order to be ready for the next round of Super Pro. Fortunately he had Nancy and long time friend Mark Winterbottom to help.
During the week prior to their last VP Race Fuels ET Series event of the season on September 28 the family started to realize they were on the verge of accomplishing something no one had done. They could very well leave New England Dragway as the first father and son team to capture championships in their respective category. “We talked about this all week,” said Ray, still beaming with pride as he reflected on the duo’s championships. He added, “I still can’t believe it. This is one of the best days in all my years of racing. We finally did it.” A footnote to all this is the aforementioned Mark Winterbottom. He will share the podium with his racing family as this year’s A&B Tire Pro Eliminator champion.