Brighton’s Jimmie NaylorPONTOON BEACH – The roots of American auto racing can often be found at the thousands of short tracks – dirt tracks, paved ovals, you name it – located throughout the nation that brings drivers in various classes together on weekend nights year-round.

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The teams you see at many of these tracks – from the drivers, mechanics, supporters – are often families who have either been involved in the sport for generations or those who are just getting started.

One local example of that can be found in Brighton’s Jimmie Naylor, who just started his second year driving a UMP B-Modified car at Tri-City Speedway; taking part in the class in the racing card at the 3/8-mile dirt oval that has been a part of the Granite City sporting scene for many years; in last Friday night’s card, Naylor finished third in his heat race to move into the night’s feature race in the class, starting fourth on the grid and finishing 19th.

“I just started my second year,” Naylor, who went to Piasa Southwestern, said. “I’ve been a racing fan for a long time.”

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Naylor began driving because of family. “I have a lot of family who does this and my dad has been doing this for years, so I decided to get one and jump in it,” Naylor said. “I want to work up in the classes and just have fun; it’s a great sport.”

When asked what attracted him to motor racing in the first place, Naylor said “the speed. Growing up, I was into four-wheelers and dirt bikes and all that stuff and the speed is something I absolutely love. A lot (of members of Naylor’s family) of them have won track champions and national champions, so why not give it a shot?

“I’m with the Seets family – Tommy and Tom Seets, John Seets and all those guys; they can drive and they’ve been a lot of help. I just hope I can be half as good as they are.”

While Naylor does have friends who drive at the track, his team is mostly family. “I’m just hoping to get better and do what I can,” Naylor said.

Naylor’s efforts couldn’t be done without sponsors. “I want to thank Dairy Queen here in Granite City and Robby Steen; he’s helped me out a lot and I want to thank Sherry Gilliland at Dream Home Realtors in Wood River – she’s helped me a lot, DynoTech racing engines (of Fosterburg and Jamie Hutchins) – he’s helped me out, and all my friends who help me out – Josh Jordan, Tristan Scott, my mom and dad especially; without them, I’d be nothing.”

It does take much to be involved in auto racing, regardless of the level. “It does take a lot of money, but I pretty much go to work and pay for this thing,” Naylor said with a laugh. “I work all throughout the day and then I come home and work on this thing to be sure it’s ready for the next week.”

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