Jacob Hesson of Marysville slides his 410 winged sprint car around a turn during a race last season. Hesson will kick of the 2020 season at Atomic Speedway on Thursday. (Photo submitted)
Sports are slowly making a return action amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those include no- contact sports such as baseball, softball golf and auto racing.
For one local sprint car driver, that means a returning to the track.
Jacob Hesson, a 2017 Marysville High School graduate, has been waiting and waiting and waiting for this day to come.
He will take to the dirt track at Atomic Speedway in Waverly, Ohio, on Thursday as part of an invitational race to kick off the season.
Hesson received the invitation to compete in the race after being one of the top 100 410 winged sprint car drivers in the nation to compete at the track.
Track officials decided to run the race as an invitational due to all of the health restrictions surrounding the coronavirus.
“If they open the race, then hundreds of drivers would try to enter, “ said Hesson.
That would mean possible issues with spreading the virus.
In effort to keep all drivers and crew members safe, there will be some stipulations. No fans will be allowed to attend the race and car haulers must remain 10 feet apart. Drivers are only allowed to bring four additional people with them. Every one will have to be checked for symptoms of the virus before entering the raceway. All participants must sign COVID-19 release forms.
For Hesson, however, it means he finally has the opportunity to compete.
He will be racing in the FAST on Dirt series, which is a 20-race event that will take place across Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The first race of the season was supposed to be run on March 28 at Waynesfield, Ohio. Like all other sports, however, the season was delaed.
This has meant more time for Hesson and his crew to work on the car.
“We put in a new motor and suspension package and had to do some testing,” he said.
Atomic Speedway is where Hesson was able to perform his testing. He feels this might give him an edge in a race that is packed with names such as Kyle Larson and Danny Deitrich.
“I’m just looking to make the main event,“ Hesson said. “Me being a local team, I’ll be happy with the finals.”
Getting there, however, might be a challenge.
“I’m afraid there are going to be some bad moves made,” he said. “Drivers are going to be eager to be back on the track.”
Hesson believes it is going to a race of attrition where the smart driver will be the last man standing and moving on to the next round.
“Nerves are going to be on the track,” he said. “We are going to get caught up in the fact that it has been six months since we have raced.”
The struggles will not only be in the car for the sprint driver. He normally brings a crew of nine to help work on the car between heats.
For this race, though, it will only be his father and brother working the pits.
“When I get out of the car, that is when it gets hectic,” Hesson said. “It is going to be more stress to make adjustments.”
That stress is something Hesson has welcomed. He made the jump to wingless sprint cars in the offseason, while racing in Illinois during February.
The season went well as he took second in nation in the points standing.
The local driver hopes to bring that success to his personal car in the FAST of Dirt series.
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