Families Cheer On Legacy Cars At Gainesville Raceway

By on September 17th, 2013
Haiden Barringer, 6, helps direct his dad in a 1973 Chevrolet Laguna off the trailer at the Gainesville Raceway last week.

Jordan Albright / WUFT

Haiden Barringer, 6, helps direct his dad in a 1973 Chevrolet Laguna off the trailer at the Gainesville Raceway last week.

A stripped-down 1973 Chevrolet Laguna revved up for the second time on a track at the Test and Tune event at the Gainesville Raceway last Wednesday.

But instead of a flashy pit crew, T.J. Barringer had his two children help with his preparations.

Street cars, race cars, a motorcycle, a Fiat and a white van lined up near Barringer’s Laguna at the biweekly event on the National Hot Rod Association’s two-lane drag strip.

For $25, North Central Florida families can bring their prized vehicles for up to a 145-mile-per-hour adrenaline rush. About 50 drivers participated.

The raceway has been open since 1969. Kids under 12 have free admission.

Barringer, 28, of Lake City, said he watched his dad work on the Laguna for 11 years. In August 2012, his dad fell ill.

He had surgery that left his right leg numb, and he was unable to race again.

Barringer said he grew up on the track and wanted to race like his dad. He finished the Laguna three weeks ago and named it “One Day,” because he hopes to be able to race with his dad again. He said he wants to paint the car orange because it’s his dad’s favorite color.

“Racing ‘One Day,’ means everything to me,” he said.

Barringer travels about an hour to the Gainesville Raceway with his wife and children to test and tune “One Day.”

“All the kids talked about last week was coming to the raceway,” said his wife, Erika Barringer.

The family environment makes it convenient to bring his 6-year-old son, Haiden, and 4-year-old daughter, Mckinleigh, along to the track.

Haiden Barringer said he started racing like his dad, and he loves watching the cars pop wheelies.

Mckinleigh Barringer said she wants to beat her dad on the track one day with her dream car and birthday wish: a “pink, jacked-up Chevrolet.”

Leona Edmonds, 9, and her sister Hannah, 7, from Lake City, have grown up watching their dad, Michael Edmonds, race.

Hannah said although she hates loud noises and has to cover her ears when the races start, she loves watching her dad and cheering him on.

“Almost all the family comes out to watch him,” she said.

Leona said her dad teaches her about bolts and screws and where they go. She said she is amazed by the way her dad can tell what is wrong with a car and how to fix it.

“When I get older, I wanna race just like my daddy,” Leona said. “He’ll be proud of me. All of the things he’s been teaching me will pay off.”

The racetrack switches between holding races and vehicle testing every Wednesday. The racing season at Gainesville Raceway ends in November.

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