By Robert Walden
KINGSPORT, Tenn. — It’s said a family that plays together, they will stay together. And one thing certain for Royce and Austin Peters of Kingsport, racing is a family affair shared by both father and son competing at Royce Peters Motorsports.
You will find both behind the wheel of a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock every Friday night in the Model City at Kingsport Speedway. Royce is a seasoned veteran with 22 years racing experience under his belt, while 20-year-old Austin is a rookie competitor.
Royce got a late start in racing, beginning in 1989 at 30 years of age driving a go-kart before moving into the Allison Legacy Series where he competed between 1993 to 1999. He also raced a Legends car, too, between 1996 and 2004 where he visited victory lane on 18 occasions. Royce finished second nationally in Allison Legacy Series points in 1998, while racing against current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Regan Smith, Brian Vickers, David Ragan and Joey Logano. Highlighting his time spent in the Allison Legacy Series was a victory at the legendary Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, and also visiting victory lane at Florence (S.C.) Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va.
Royce first strapped in behind the wheel of a Late Model Stock for the first time during the 2002 racing season at Kingsport Speedway, finishing top-10 in the point standings. With Kingsport Speedway locking its gates following the 2002 racing season until opening back up for weekly racing in 2011 with former NASCAR driver Robert Pressley at the helm, he began racing at Lonesome Pine Raceway and also during the decade competed in several United Auto Racing Association – Short Track Auto Racing Series Late Model touring events around the Southeast. Royce had a stellar 2007 racing campaign at LPR when he won two races, while recording 10 runner-up finishes en route to a solid second-place finish in points.
Austin began racing go-karts when he was just 9 years old before eventually climbing the ladder to start racing an Allison Legacy Series car at age 13. During the 2005 season at 411 Motor Speedway, located just outside of Knoxville in Seymour, Austin garnered Rookie of the Year honors and finished runner-up in Allison Legacy Series points.
Austin raced in the Charger division during the 2009 and 2010 campaigns at Lonesome Pine Raceway, and competed in the Limited Sportsman class in 2011 at Kingsport Speedway. He finished third in Limited Sportsman points last year, while also capturing his first-ever feature win last June.
With limited seat-time over the past three years racing full-bodied stock cars, some maybe wondered if Austin was ready to make the move up to racing in the premier NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock division this season to compete for not only track rookie honors, but also on both the state and national levels?
With the 2012 racing season a little past the halfway mark, both Austin and Royce are ranked top-10 in the Kingsport Speedway Late Model Stock point standings. Austin has turned heads and caught the attention of many in the pits at the .375-mile banked concrete oval as he currently sits fifth in points, while Royce is eighth – but only five points behind Austin on the points leaderboard. Most definitely to this point in the racing season, Austin’s results speak volumes, as he’s recorded 10 top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
“To be quite honest with you, yeah, I guess maybe I’m a little surprised at just how good our season has been up to this point,” said Austin while working on his car at the race shop getting it ready for another night of racing at Kingsport Speedway. “Back during the winter, once dad made the decision that I was going to race this year in the Late Model Stock division, both he and I set goals of me trying to win the track rookie title and also the Tennessee state rookie championship. We knew to reach those goals, first and foremost I needed to finish races. Because if you’re parked in the pits due to wrecking your car, you’re not earning points. Plus it’s going to cost you money to repair your car, and being we’re a two-car team it’s quite an expensive deal just to be able field one car much less two cars for dad and myself.
“We started the season off with a 15th-place finish, but the second race we had a really good run and finished sixth – one position ahead of dad. That was so cool, to know I outran my dad. Because he’s the reason I’m driving a race car, and it’s just an awesome deal be able to say I finished ahead of my dad in a race. Hey, through the first 13 races I’ve actually finished better than dad on eight occasions. That kind of gives me family bragging rights at the shop during the week while all of us are working on both race cars. Kingsport Speedway has earned recognition as having one of the strongest fields week in and week out of any NASCAR sanctioned short-track in the country, and really if you record a top-10 finish you’ve had a good run. Most every race night there will be at least a 20-car field, and I’m going to say there are really about 15 cars capable of finishing on the lead lap of a 60-lap feature. So to be able finish inside the top-10, you’ve really got to get up on the wheel and drive your car – but all the while keeping your nose clean and not getting caught up in any racing incidents. Currently being fifth in track points is awesome, but what’s even better is we’re leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national rookie standings. That’s almost just too unreal to even believe, because I kind of feel like I’m ‘just living a dream’ anyhow getting the opportunity to race a Late Model Stock each week with my dad and against some of the top racers’ you’ll find anywhere. In the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national rankings of the top-500 drivers in the country we’re 61st, and in the Tennessee state standings we’re sixth and also leading the state rookie points.”
During the week you will find 52-year-old Royce Peters overseeing his East Tennessee Dental Restorations business in Kingsport, but come Friday his focus switches to the racing efforts for both himself and Austin at Kingsport Speedway.
“To have the opportunity to race every Friday night at Kingsport Speedway with my son, it just doesn’t get much better than that,” said a smiling father while reflecting on the memories he’s making while racing with his son. “Generally once your kid gets out of high school and becomes an adult, usually there’s not much father-son time spent together doing something you both truly love and have a passion for. Besides time I get to spend at the track with Austin, with us getting to race at a location in our hometown it allows my wife Debbie and other family members and also friends to be able watch us race.
“You should see Debbie at the track, she’s a nervous wreck with both Austin and myself out there together. She’s there supporting the both of us, but in the grand scheme of things I’m her husband and Austin’s her son. And ol’ dad had best not ever run into Austin on the racetrack and wreck him or I’ll be sleeping in the dog house, because that’s ‘momma’s boy’ and she’s protective of her son. But in all seriousness, I’m just as protective of Austin, too. I know the potential danger you face as a driver when you strap-in the race car each race night. I feel very confident in knowing both race cars we field at RPM are safe, and really Austin and I are safer competing in our Late Model Stock feature race than what we are while driving the race haulers to the track on the highway.”
With the emergence of Austin and his accomplishments so far this racing season at Kingsport Speedway, Royce is looking ahead to when the time comes and he calls it a career and hangs his helmet up for a final time.
“When Robert Pressley decided to open Kingsport Speedway up for the 2011 racing season, let me tell you – that definitely made me happy. Because it’s a whole lot easier to go racing when you’ve got a facility that’s basically in your own backyard, instead of having to tow two race cars over into Southwest Virginia to Lonesome Pine Raceway or down to Newport Speedway. Kingsport Speedway is literally 10 minutes from our race shop. Sure, I love racing and all – but both Austin and our family also have other hobbies that we enjoy. We love spending time on the water riding in the boat or on the jet-ski, and we also like going off-road into the mountains riding our ATV quads. With us now racing for the past two years on Friday night at Kingsport, we get our racing out of the way and then we have Saturday and Sunday for leisure time. You can’t beat that.
“You know, as a race car driver you kind of don’t want to think about when the time comes to hang your helmet up and call it a career. With Austin being a rookie competitor this season, there’s no doubt with him being just 20 years old, he’s the future of Royce Peters Motorsports. I won’t lie, it’s special – very special – getting to race with Austin every Friday. I’m going to finish the 2012 season out running all races, but as of now in all likelihood I will only run occasionally in 2013. I just hope over the final half of the current racing season that both Austin and myself can keep running inside the top-10. You’ve got to look at the overall picture, and if Austin can chauffeur an RPM race car to the trifecta of earning the track rookie title, along with the state rookie award and then the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national rookie of the year championship, wow – that would just be tremendous. We’ve got 13 track races in the books, and if Austin can just keep reeling the top-10 finishes off, it’s very realistic he’ll be crowned a NASCAR national rookie of the year. And what a celebration we would have in getting to attend the NASCAR Home Tracks national points banquet held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. Hey, we’ve just got to prepare our equipment to the best of our abilities back at the race shop during the week and then come race night, just run a good, smart race and be running at the checkered flag in order to earn maximum points.”
Besides drivers Royce and Austin Peters, heading up the crew for RPM is longtime associate Max Hamilton, Richard Hicks, Jonathan “Elmo” Thomas, Ryan Halverson and Scottie Tipton.
Sponsors for Royce Peters Motorsports in 2012 include East Tennessee Dental Restorations, Scott R. Miller D.D.S. in Bristol, Va., Wild Wilma’s Fireworks, Apple Shed, Sign Time, Cage Brawl Fighting Championship, Hedgecock Race Cars, Clark’s Automotive Race Engines, and Bobby Myers Performance Automotive.
To contact Royce Peters Motorsports you may reach team owner Royce Peters at (423) 817-3183.
Press Release Prepared By:
Walden Motorsports Communications
Johnson City, TN