The street stocks division at Lee USA Speedway this season had a nice mix of drivers of all ages.
Friday night, it was the youngest on the track who made the biggest impact.
Fifteen-year-old Cam Huntress crossed the finish line first for his first feature race win at Lee USA, a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned 0.375-mile asphalt oval track in Lee, New Hampshire. Not only did he pick up his first win, but he also finished the season taking home rookie of the year honors in the division.
"I didn’t really pay attention a whole lot to the points," Huntress said. "I was really just out here having fun, but it’s cool to get the rookie of the year."
Huntress won a heat race earlier in the night, adding to his confidence for the feature. It was his first win in his street stock car.
"We started off really good. We had good speed right away, put on some new tires and went even better and then even better and we ended the night strong also," he said.
Huntress was one of just two teenagers in the Race Parts NH Street Stocks division at Lee USA, and he said he was the youngest by at least a couple of years. The youngster got his start at his home track last year, racing in the pure stocks division.
With an age restriction saying drivers can’t get behind the wheel for a race at Lee until they’re 14, Huntress wasted no time, racing for the first time on his 14th birthday.
"I turned 14 on Friday, the day that I was able to race there so that was pretty cool," he said. "I got to race on my birthday."
It wasn’t always cars for Huntress. He got his start when he was six years old, and for a time raced snow mobiles. But after falling off of his former vehicle one time, he decided to instead move to something with a cage on it. Cars seemed a bit safer, and watching his dad race was a good way into the sport.
Even when he wasn’t able to get in the driver’s seat, Huntress was a familiar face around Lee USA.
"I was probably like one year old the first time I went there and I’ve always grown up going to races there every week," he said.
The track was an obvious choice when it came time to pick where Huntress wanted to start his career. He didn’t take his car anywhere else this season, though he and his crew may travel a bit now that the season at Lee is over.
Being the youngest in the division helped a lot too, because Huntress was able to learn from his elders and his friends at the track and around the sport. He figured out how to be a better driver and develop his own style of driving.
"Lots of car control, how to pass really," Huntress said when asked what he learned this season. "I struggled with that a little bit at the beginning of the season so I slowly figured that out. How to start races better, work on my restarts towards the end of the season, that helped a lot.
"I’ve always thought that I was pretty smooth and stuff but this year with a lot of power you really have to be really smooth and I learned that I am. I like to think I am anyway."
Even with all he’s learned about himself and how to drive, the win Friday night still came as a surprise. Having the rookie of the year title, too, is a great way to show Huntress how much he’s improved.
"I couldn’t even believe it. My goal for this year was to get a top-3 at some point hopefully. I didn’t expect that at all to get a win," he said. "It’s (the rookie of the year title) good to have just because we put so much hard work in and it’s good to have something to show for it."
Huntress and his team will likely stay in the street stocks division for at least another year or two, but he’d like to continue moving up to divisions from there.
Much like this year, he doesn’t have any concrete goals for racing as a 16-year-old.
For now, he has a race and title win that he said he’ll never forget.
"Mostly just the competition and how hard it is at times, but once you do good it’s real rewarding," Huntress said. "Hopefully just winning races. Win a couple more races and maybe a championship or something, who knows."
The NASCAR season at Lee USA is over, but racing will return on September 28 for the Rusty Wallace Driving Experience. The track will also hold Oktoberfest on October 5, featuring 15 different series over two days.