On any given race night at Salina Highbanks Speedway there could be more than 20 members of the extended Shive family working around the pits.
Brothers Erick, Josh, Jordon, and Kelly all race at the NASCAR-sanctioned 0.375-mile high-banked oval clay oval track in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma. Jordon’s finance, Erika Cobler, also races, as does another one of their cousins. Joining the group is their father, Bruce Shive, who serves as crew chief, Mike Guinn, Erick’s father-in-law, and a whole group of other family members who all do whatever they can to support and help out in any way possible.
"There’s a ton of us. It’s crazy," Erick Shive said.
The family started racing at Salina together about four years ago, though Erick said the sport has been in the brother’s blood since they were kids. Bruce Shive raced at Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, Oklahoma in the 90s, and runs a motorsports and performance company, so the four brothers grew up around the sport.
Erick was the first brother to give dirt track racing a try about seven years ago at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Oklahoma. Josh and Jordon followed suit about four years ago and the family moved to Salina, which is about 10 minutes from where they all live. The final brother, Kelly, started racing last year.
Jordon and Erick race in Salina’s S&J Plumbing Pure Stocks division, and Bruce even has a race under his belt in that class this year as well.
This is Cobler’s first season racing. She and Kelly Shive share a car in Salina’s Bostick ElectricTrophy Cars division.
Erick said all four brothers are pretty mechanically-inclined when it comes to cars, putting in a group effort to change motors and work on the cars throughout the week. Josh and Jordon are the natural drivers of the group, Erick said, and started winning races really quickly after getting in the car. The four all grew up on dirt bikes and around race cars, so the sport came pretty naturally to all of them.
The brothers race alongside and against one another, but Erick said there’s very little competitiveness among the group. They prefer to help and support to make sure at least one of them is in Victory Lane every week.
"We always have this saying, as long as one of us is winning we’re all happy," Erick said. "Because we all go for the same goal with each car that we have. I’m not going to lie, each of us wants to beat each other, but our main goal is as long as one of us has won the race that’s the most important thing because we all help each other out to achieve that goal."
Jordon has the most wins among the family this season with two and six top fives in six races. Erick has four top fives this season.
Erick said that success comes from the huge amount of support and help they receive.
"During the week it’s all of us. My dad, my brothers, a couple cousins. The weekend, no joke, I bet there’s 25 people on any given Saturday in our pits," he said. "Everybody contributes one way or another. We’ve got people filming, people changing tires. It’s like a pit crew, everybody kind of has a job to do."
The brothers race for wins, but more importantly they race to remain close and have a chance to see and be around each other as much as possible. Just this past week, Erick needed a transmission put in and his brothers were right there with him to help and make sure he was able to go racing that weekend.
"Everybody talks almost on a daily basis," Erick said. "Like, ‘Hey did you get your car done? Do you need help? Do you want me to come over?’"
"We have a lot of friends out at the track and we help anybody. There’s so much of us that somebody can lend a hand to somebody."
Wins or not, Erick said the best part about racing is the time it allows him to be with his family.
"I spend every day with my brothers and with my dad and my stepmom. Not many people get to spend that much time with family and get a lot of enjoyment out of it," he said. "That’s what it’s all about. Racing is fun, but doing that makes it a lot more fun.
"You’re not going to get rich doing dirt track racing, on our level anyway, but we’re just out there for the fun and for the sport as well. We’re competitive but it’s a family thing. Who can say they hang out with four of their brothers and their dad every weekend?"
Racing will return to Salina Highbanks Speedway this Saturday for the Oil Capital Racing Series featuring POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprints (Non-Wing): USAC Wingless Sprints Oklahoma, AmeriFlex Hose & Accessories B-Mods, Dawson Roofing Super Stocks, and S&J Plumbing Pure Stocks. NASCAR racing will return to Salina on August 8.