License to Drive: SS sixth-grader spends his weekends behind the wheel of a junior dragster
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

June 18, 2005 - Jacob Phillips spends his weekends doing something most 10-year-olds only dream of getting the chance to do - he spends his weekends behind the wheel of a dragster.

Jacob, the 10-year old son of Mike and Janet Phillips, has been driving his dragster for three years now and continues a family tradition that started back when his grandfather was racing a dragster.

"I got into the sport because my dad was driving dragsters and his dad was driving dragsters, and so it kind of became a family tradition," Jacob said.

Phillips will be going into the sixth grade and races a junior dragster, winning 11 trophies so far in his racing career.

He is currently second in points at the Paris Drag Strip and third in points at Red Line Raceway in Caddo Mills with 140 points heading into this weekend's races.

In 2004, Phillips finished the season in sixth place at Red Line Raceway with a total of 500 points.

"I am pretty proud because the weekend that we both won our races at Paris was probably the highlight of the last three years that we have been racing because we have never been able to do that on the same night," said Mike.

Jacob said racing has taught him how to focus and work on his concentration as he travels down the strip at 64 miles per hour during a race.

"Racing has taught me to focus, it takes a lot of concentration and self discipline," he said. "When the other person's dial-in is 4 seconds more than yours and they take off and you have to sit at the starting line waiting on your light to go, those 4 seconds seem like a long time."

"It is hard to see the other kid at half track and not leave too soon. It has taught me coordination, it has taught me to be aware of my surroundings - especially the other person."

As in any sport, safety is one of the top priorities for an athlete and being in an open-wheel car is especially important for Jacob as his father is the only member of his pit crew during a race.

"We wear a helmet, neck brace, fire jackets, fire gloves, fire pants and fire shoes during a race," Jacob said.

"But mostly it has taught me to understand the reason and the need for all the safety features. I have seen some junior dragsters flip over, the drivers have never been hurt. That's amazing and it because of all the safety features."

Jacob said being a drag racer is fun and every time that a new racer comes to the track the other drivers make sure that they become friends with them as soon as they can, and once they do every one helps with each others' cars.

"Sometimes the girls are the hardest ones to beat, but they are the best cheerleaders! When we went to Shreveport a lot of kids from Caddo Mills went, and all the girls were put out before me, so they all stayed and their families stayed to cheer me on," he said. "Every trophy makes me realize what I can achieve."

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