Stock car racing a total family effort for local husband and wife
For the last ten years, Chris Shelton has been grinding away racing late models on local dirt tracks, trying to make a name for himself. He did just that last year when he finished ranked 21st nationally, and was named south region driver of the year. As imagined, its taken a lot to get to where he is, with a lot of help from his family.
Each day Shelton shows up to his garage with things to do. Change the tires, work on the engine, fix the damage from the last race.
“If my wife would let me I would spend 20 hours in here,” Shelton said as he sat in his garage. “Just sleep and come back.”
But to know Shelton, you have to know that he started from the bottom doing everything himself, and occasionally his wife would give him a hand.
“I would help him. Sit in the car and pump the pedals while he got the air out,” admitted Abbey Shelton. “We spend all hours of the day and night together.”
Life has changed a little for the Shelton family lately, Abbey takes care of their newborn daughter Manning while running the family floral business in Paducah.
“She comes down and hangs out for a few minutes, while I finish up and do things,” Chris Shelton said.
But the goal is still the same, just win races.
“I never thought I would win a race, and we won three last year so that was cool,” said Chris. “And there were three others where we came up just short.”
So many hours are put in each week in order to get ready for race day, where he has only thirty minutes to show what he can really do.
On a race night in early May, Shelton went up against tougher competition than usual, with teams owned by Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer running against the much smaller Shelton team at Paducah International Raceway. The night was a struggle for Shelton, as he finished near the bottom. But it wasn’t all bad for the small-time driver from Paducah.
“If it was a regular race it would be frustrating, but this is the best in the world,” Shelton said afterwards. “If your car is a little off you have to have everything work to win a race.”
So the Sheltons went home, beaten but always staying positive. All for the love of the sport.
“I spent all week working on it, now I have to do it all again,” Chris explained. “But you get one good lap, or run well then your ready to go.”
“No other explanation why anyone would do this,” Abbey Shelton said. “That’s the only explanation I have is for love of racing and the sport.”