WINSTON — Last year, Douglas High School senior Kyle Alberding won the Rick Brown Super Shoe at Douglas County Speedway, his father finished second and his grandfather joined him in victory lane to celebrate.
This year, Kyle Alberding hopes to take the NSRA winged sprintcars trophy home again, but his grandfather “Quick Rick” Brown won’t be there to join him in victory lane. The racing legend passed away in November 2017 after a long battle with colon cancer.
Andy Alberding will join his son on the track once again to vie for the gilded shoe trophy.
“They’ve been a pretty big influence,” Kyle Alberding said. “It’s a lot about how you drive these cars, but managing races and having good teachers is pretty important.”
In 2015, the three generations were all racing the sprintcar circuit, something Sherrie Alberding described as “amazing.” Sherrie is Brown’s daughter, Andy’s wife and Kyle’s mother.
When the super shoe race first started it took place at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho. The race moved to Roseburg and was renamed the Rick Brown Super Shoe. Organizers even made a trophy from one of Brown’s old racing shoes.
“It’s always a fun race, but this one is a little more important with grandpa’s name on it. It’ll be an emotional one,” Andy Alberding said. “So many people from all over the Northwest are coming here because it’s Rick’s memorial race.”
Kyle’s name is inscribed on one of the plaques on the trophy, and so is his father’s.
Father and son each hope to get their name on the trophy once more and keep the gilded shoe at home in Winston.
“If he wants to win he has to earn it,” Andy Alberding said. “It was cool last year, but I wouldn’t want to cheapen it in any way.”
They’ll face not only each other but nearly twenty other drivers as well.
Kyle Alberding is hoping to win in Brown’s old sprintcar. One that came to him more as an accident than a family heirloom.
The young Alberding had been racing outlaw karts from the time he was 8, and when he wanted to make the transition to sprints at 16, he was eager to find a car.
“Just by coincidence I ended up with (my grandfather’s car). (Brown) sold it to a guy, who sold it to a guy, who just happened to have a son about my age who was starting a two-car team, and I ended up driving it,” Kyle Alberding said. “My mom says I better not wreck it. It’s been wrecked a couple of times, but not by me.”
It’s the same car that helped him to victory last year.
Douglas County Speedway is listed as the home track for the Alberdings, although they just use it for a few practice session prior to the start of the season and the annual sprint car race.
“For whatever I feel more comfortable on this track,” Kyle Alberding said about Douglas County Speedway. “We’ve got friends and family come Saturday from around the area, which is something different about this track.”
But while Kyle Alberding is certainly a contender on the track, his father is making sure he stays committed off the track as well.
“Showing up on Saturdays is the easy part,” Andy Alberding said. “I try to teach him how to maintain and get cars ready. It’s Monday through Friday going over stuff and making sure stuff is not breaking and falling off the cars. I just want to teach him the attitude and how you can lose graceful but win as well. Be competitive and know this is a sport and we’re out here having a good time, but it’s a hobby. I just want to have him be prepared to conduct himself in a professional manner, and I think he’s got that.”
The race marks the start of the NSRA season. The winged sprint cars will continue their season at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho. Drivers will compete nine times at five different race tracks in four American states —Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington— and one Canadian province —British Columbia.
Aaron Willison is the defending NSRA winged sprintcars champion.
In addition to sprint cars there will also be vintage sprint cars, modifieds, hardtops and bangers races at the Douglas County Speedway on Saturday.
The front gates open at 4 p.m., with racing starting at 6.
Admission is $20 for adults or $10 for kids, seniors and military. A family pass, for two adults and unlimited kids, is $40.
Kyle Alberding is considering branching out from the pavement to the dirt tracks to add some extra races to his schedule, but for now pavement is the focus. And the Rick Brown Super Shoe is the most important race.
Beyond that, he’s focused on driving a consistent season with top five finishes at each track.