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Published: Thursday, 5/14/2009

Weaver returns to track Driving 1 of many accomplishments

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Ken Weaver has made a modest fortune in the business world, run a company with 900-some employees, played basketball, football and baseball on the college level, and battled cancer and endured chemotherapy.

And for a while, he raced stock cars in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, and he did it as much for therapy to cope with the stress of his high-stakes job and his health issues as he did for the competition it offered.

After finishing third in points in the 2005 season, Weaver stepped away from the sport, a victim of what he described as "a little bit of frustration, and the ebb and the flow of racing.

"Things don't always go as you planned," Weaver said.

He spent most of the last three years away from racing, but when an opportunity opened up earlier this year to return to the track with Cunningham Motorsports, all 6-foot-7 inches worth of Ken Weaver came flying back into the ARCA series.

"I swear I miss racing more than I miss any of my ex-wives," Weaver said at the time of his return.

He was at Toledo Speedway earlier this week to test his car on the half-mile oval, preparing for Sunday's running of the Menards 200 ARCA race. Weaver is 10th in points after five events and admits he has struggled a bit since his return.

"The rust is taking a long time to come off," Weaver said. "I'm having to re-learn the line [at Toledo Speedway]. I think I forgot where it was."

Weaver first came into ARCA in 2003 as a self-proclaimed "old fogy without a lot of talent." He ran hard and had success, but once got fined for being late to a pre-race drivers meeting. He had been delayed at a board meeting at his company - a board meeting he was running.

Weaver had been a three-sport athlete at North Texas State, where he played basketball, football and baseball. He was the first baseman on a championship baseball team, and in basketball made use of his 39-inch vertical jump.

His football skills were under-utilized in Weaver's first two seasons at North Texas State, since he never took a snap, even in practice. The night before the season-opener the next year, the first and second-team quarterbacks were injured in an auto accident and Weaver got a call from the coach at 2 a.m., informing him that he would be the starter the next day. His team won 63-0 with Weaver at quarterback.

When he left North Texas State, Weaver had dual degrees in business administration, and construction technology and management. His business endeavors have included ventures in Texas, Mexico and Panama, in telecommunications, oil and gas, and real estate companies.

The now 53-year-old Dallas native cherishes the competitive opportunity presented by racing.

"I can't compete anymore in basketball, football and baseball," Weaver said. "But that's the beauty of racing; if you're in good shape, you can still race and compete at the highest levels."

To be ready for Sunday, Weaver still has some homework to do, even after his testing runs around the Toledo Speedway track.

"In terms of tracks that I consider challenging, this one [Toledo] ranks right up there," Weaver said. "It's very easy to overdrive. There aren't four lines around this track, like an MIS or Fontana. Hitting your marks is paramount here."

Putting aside the headaches and pressures of racing in the ARCA Series, where he faces life-long racers like Ken Schrader and Frank Kimmel as well as an endless parade of the hot-shot young guns like this season's early points leader, Parker Kligerman, Weaver is still happy to be racing.

"It's hard to adequately say how much I've missed it," Weaver said. "But it's still a big thrill to go out there and race. We're holding our own, and I guess it's nice to know that aging isn't so god-awful bad, because we can still be competitive with these younger guys."

Contact Matt Markey at

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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