From the moment Will Martyn sat down behind the wheel of quarter midget race car, it was apparent to his father, Randy, that his son was a natural. Now a 14-year-old freshman at Yosemite High School, Will has big NASCAR dreams that he is committed to seeing come true.
It all began when Will was just seven and-a-half years old. Randy and his father had been mechanics their whole lives and wanted something they could do together, as a family, after Randy's mother passed away. When they saw an ad for racing in the newspaper, they decided to take Will out to the track.
"Will did 10 laps and took to it like a duck to water," Randy said.
Will fell in love with the sport and it's been a big part of his life ever since.
"It's just me and that car and no one tells me what to do but me," Will said. "You don't know what's going to happen next, anything could happen."
Before they knew it, Randy said they were buying Will a Quarter Midget, a trailer, and a motorhome so they'd be all set to travel to racetracks. Although now Will primarily races in Visalia and Lemoore, for two years they traveled four hours each way to Rio Linda where Will began racking up wins and championships. Going to the racetrack has always been a family affair and everyone, including the family's four long-haired Chihuahuas, are cheering Will on from the sidelines.
"It's a big commitment on our part and on his part ... (but) in the long run, he's going to get a lot out of it and I wouldn't have traded it for the world," said Randy, who is also Will's racing coach.
For Will's mother, Susan, even though she's proud of her son, it's not always easy to watch.
"As a mother and a nurse, safety is utmost in my mind," Susan said. "I do hold my breath every time he is on the track. You never can anticipate when something will happen. All the times he has flipped, barrel rolled, or spun out -- I am thankful for all the money we spent on safety gear/restraints."
Will says accidents on the track don't phase him, he's just frustrated they stopped him from racing. Since he started racing, he's won more than 60 awards that are now filling up a big portion of his family's living room. Will is at the racetrack every weekend and Randy wouldn't have it any other way.
"I know where he's at every Friday and Saturday night," Randy said. "If teens don't have a goal with their life, they'll get into trouble. If his grades are bad, we don't go racing and he's only ever missed one race. I believe it's been very good for Will and teaches him a sense of value and that he has to make sacrifices to go racing."
Last year Will tried out for Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle, a racing school, with more than 1,000 other young hopefuls. The selection process included sending in a résumé and a phone interview to evaluate how serious the driver is and their goals. Will was selected, along with 40 other young racers, for tryouts. He tested in a 185 horsepower Focus Midget and did 100 laps and was told he was very good, but needed more big car experience to be in the micro sprints and to come back next year.
Randy and Susan made sure Will had the equipment to pursue his dream and he began practicing in his new 75 horsepower (65-75 m.p.h.) Micro Sprint -- much more horsepower than his 13 horsepower (30 m.p.h. Quarter Midget. In October, he went back to test for the winner's circle at the Stockton Motor Speedway and was one of four accepted into the program. Will was elated but the good news was followed by bad news -- Ron Sutton's Winner's Circle driving school was closing.
"It was kind of sad because I was so close, but at least I made it in," Will said.
The winner's circle did offer to write and send out letters of recommendation to other racing schools and Will is hopeful about the outcome. He already has his eyes set on Eclipse Racing eclipse-racing.com) out of Fremont and plans to tryout next year -- plans that he hopes will lead him to NASCAR.
"If they see he's coachable and will listen, they'll introduce him to the next step," Randy said. "He's a the prime age they're looking for to shape him, mold him, and teach fundamentals to drive a race car."
Will hopes to move to modifieds next on the racetrack and later get a degree in mechanics and become a professional race car driver.
"Randy and I have always just wanted William to find something he enjoyed," Susan said. "It's awesome that it may morph into a career."