Adam Lemke races toward next level

Adam Lemke, a San Benito High freshman, is racing at a level belying his age.

Adam Lemke knows it’s important to learn something new every time he gets inside his race car. The day Lemke stops advancing, he’ll know it’s probably time to start do something else.

“I’m not going to stop learning,” he said. “I will learn every time I go on the race track. I feel like I’m improving every year. I’m getting more experience driving, meeting new people and getting information from them.”

Lemke, who is about to complete his freshman year at San Benito High, has had a typical 2017 season. In other words, he’s been really good. In a race at Merced Speedway on May 13, Lemke was the top qualifier and took second in the heat race before finishing second in the main race.

It was another quality result for Lemke, who competes in the Western Midget U.S. Series, a class of non-wing open wheel race cars. Lemke loves racing on a dirt track like Madera Speedway, since it tends to be a driver’s track. Earlier this month, he competed at Madera Speedway, a dirt track that puts a lot of the onus on the driver to make rapid-fire decisions in handling the car.

“On dirt tracks it’s a lot more on the driver because when you go into a corner, you have to get the car sideways (to maintain speed),” he said. “You have to trust yourself and hope the car follows through the corner. The biggest difference in getting your car sideways is trusting yourself in the car.”

Lemke said he’s still learning how to drive dirt tracks after racing on asphalt tracks most of his life. But it’s a great challenge, one that he’s taken to with an eagerness that underscores his passion for racing. Lemke has racked up some big wins this season, including a victory in Las Vegas and Kern County.

In the latter race, Lemke worked his way up from the sixth position before making the winning pass with two laps to go. Lemke and his dad, Rodney, leave for the race track on Friday during a typical race weekend. The regular stops on the circuit include Kern County, Merced, Madera, Chowchilla, Ventura and Las Vegas at the season-ending championships.

If there is an open practice, Rodney—who is also Adam’s crew chief—works on the car before and after Adam drives the car in practice runs. Saturday is race day, a time when the Lemkes experience the rush and adrenaline of being on a race track. Adam said he’s had a great car all season, meaning he puts everything on his shoulders to determine the outcome.

“I’m pretty sure every time I go on the race track, I’ve got a car capable of getting the win,” he said. “It’s up to me to make the right decisions and get it done.”

Race car drivers need to be focused and possess tremendous hand-eye coordination to properly maneuver a car at high speeds in between traffic, and Lemke seemingly has all the physical tools to keep on advancing up all the circuits that he hopes will one day land him a seat in a NASCAR series.

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