Looking back on her life in auto racing, 35-year-old Joy LaFlam, of Toledo, said: "Today you see people from all walks of life involved in auto racing but back when I was growing up it was a mechanic-oriented sport."
LaFlam, whose father Ron Miller drives a super late model at Oakshade Raceway, went to her first race when she was six months old.
The Millers are a racing family and she knew no other life. As a young girl in upper New York state when she was not at the race track LaFlam spent many a night in the garage watching her dad work on his race car. As a result she, who like her mom Kathy is an RN, has no trouble working on her street car.
In her formative years, LaFlam formed many lasting friendships with many other kids whose parents were also involved in racing. She also remembers the rivalries that developed between some of the families. But the rivalries never stood in the way of everybody pitching in to help each other out when ever the need arose.
LaFlam also recalls people looking down on her and her friends when the people found out that they were from racing families. This is not the case today and LaFlam credits the movie Days of Thunder with the positive way people look at the sport today - "A little bit of Hollywood has done a great thing for the racing community."
Her brother Steven Miller, 33, also drives a super late model at Oakshade which at times causes LaFlam to have mixed emotions. ''When dad and Steven are both in the same race I root for my dad. I don't know why but watching my brother race makes me nervous."
While she and her husband Joe are neither encouraging nor discouraging sons Nik, 15 and Jordan, 8 from getting involved in racing, LaFlam said that both boys love the sport. "Nik spends every Saturday night at the track with his grandpa and he's at the shop several nights a week learning how to work on race cars."
How to keep your weekly participants happy: During the July 31 Chuck Kear Memorial at Fremont Speedway each of the sprint car drivers in both divisions, 410-305, who made the A-main received a manufacturer's gift or gift certificate. The total giveaway package added up to more than $21,000.
Last winter 410 winged sprint car driver Alvin Roepke, Elmore, sold his sprint car Maxim chassis to Brian Smith, Fremont. This season Roepke has been struggling to find the right setup with his new Mountain Dew green No, 99 Maxim chassis sprint car. In fact in an effort to get back on the winning track Roepke recently switched over to a J&J chassis. So far he is still struggling at Fremont with a 10th-place finish in last weeks feature.
On the other hand Smith, who competes in the 305 winged sprint car division, has two feature wins this season and is leading the point standings at both Fremont Speedway and Attica Raceway Park.
After recording his 57th career feature win in the 410 winged sprint cars at Fremont Speedway, Mark Keegan of Fremont said of "The Track That Action Built: "I'll tell you, racing with all these guys is a lot of fun. This is some of the toughest competition in the country. That's why a lot of guys won't come here."