From baseball field to race track

Adrenaline can be addicting - while some choose to sky or cliff dive, others look to get their thrills a little closer to the ground, and what better way than racing around a dirt track in a sprint car at 100 mph? Such is the case for Scott Parker, a Minarets High School graduate from Coarsegold.

Parker played football, and played second base and pitched for the Mustangs central section championship baseball team. He could have played at the college level but chose to dedicate his time to his real passion of racing cars.

Parker, 20, has been driving since the age of nine, starting with go-karts. At 10, he moved up to junior sprint cars with top speeds of 50 MPH, where he rapidly improved his driving skills. His love of the track has been fueled by his father and one of his sponsors, Craig Parker, owner of Kiwi Transportation.

Scott has worked his way up the ranks, starting with a Briggs & Stratton engine that you would find on your lawn mower, to a Honda 600, found on street bikes, to a small block Chevrolet engine capable of speeds of nearly 200 mph. Just as in Nascar, Parker has a pit crew that tends to his car before and after each run during race nights.

Scott’s summers now consist of traveling throughout California, Oregon, and Washington with his family while racing in the King Of the West Series. Racing in Placerville, Chico, Watsonville, Hanford, Tulare, and beyond, the race season runs from March through September.

Dalton Landscaping, Parker’s primary sponsor, has two cars and four engines which they switch out for different race classes.

While in high school, Scott ran 16 races a year - now attending Fresno City College, he participates in 35 to 40 races annually. Parker has raced in the “World of Outlaws” series featuring cars sponsored by racing greats Tony Stewart, and Kasey Kane. The Outlaws series travels throughout the nation with a 160-race schedule.

His passion for speed doesn’t come without dangers. He’s had his share of mishaps, including receiving burns from an engine fire that sidelined him for a while. He has also witnessed fatalities on the track. That being said, the racing family is a close-knit group who always come to the aid of one another when in need. It’s not unusual to see competitors helping one another repair a car that has been damaged, in hopes of finishing out the evening.

Scott’s goals and aspirations include to win a King Of the West or Civil War race, and to race in New Zealand for the sprint car title. His father comes from New Zealand and met his wife Lori while attending Kerman High School as an exchange student. The Parkers visit New Zealand on a regular basis.

The Dalton crew also has a racing team in New Zealand, and many American drivers travel there to take part in the championship series run in December.

“I feel blessed for the opportunity to do something I love,” Scott said.