Racing brings family closer together

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Timothy Young
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Imagine driving in excess of 100 mph all while trying to pass one vehicle after another sometimes with only inches of room on either side. One small mistake could send the vehicle head first into a cement wall.

That's just another day at the track for Thunder Roadster racecar driver Ian Anderson.

With a current Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring record of 21-0, it is safe to say Ian is doing something right on the track, but what isn't shown is the commitment both Ian and his parents have while off the track.

Ian said it was his father Mark Anderson that got him into racing in the first place.

He wanted to start racing after watching his dad race go-carts so he tried it in 2002, and he liked it.

"Next thing I knew, we decided to buy Ian a go-cart to race with," said Master Sgt. Cristy Anderson, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group first sergeant and Ian's mom.

"Little do you know you are going to be in it forever," she said. "Once someone starts racing, that's it."

Since starting with go-carts at 6 years old, Ian has since moved his way up from one car class to another until his parents were able to purchase a vehicle in the Thunder Roadster class.

"When [we] bought the car [we] have now, [Ian and Mark] brought it all the way down to the [frame] and built it all back up," Anderson said. "Because you clearly want to make sure everything is safe, and that every nut and bolt is new and secure."

Some parents would shudder at the thought of watching their child drive around at such high speeds, and Ian's parents are no different.

"We go to some tracks, and he goes well over 100 mph," Ian's mother said. "You always get nervous when they get on the track."

Although wrecks are a part of racing Anderson said that Ian's experience and safety gear eases her concerns.

"He's very talented so I don't really worry very much about that," she said. "To me, it's no more of a risk then a child on a football field."

Safety is also on Ian's parent's minds when sending their son speeding out on the track.
Mark looks over the car almost every day for wear and tear that he may have missed previously. He said at such high speeds, one loose bolt can send a car out of control and into a wall.

"I put [countless] hours and a lot of late nights inspecting every part between every race," he said. "The reliability of the car allows Ian to do what he does."

His duties don't just stop when Ian enters the track. During the race, Mark is watching for any mechanical problems and helping navigate the traffic on the radio.

"I'm glad that we are able to give him the tools he needs to give it everything he has," Mark said.

The Anderson family attributes racing as one of the reasons they are such a strong family. In some sports that children play, parents can only cheer and watch from the side lines. With racing, Ian relies on his parents as a team to help him prepare for and even win in races.

Ian and Mark did not know much about working on cars before Ian started racing. They both had to learn as they went along.

"Just like with any sport or activity you do in life, the more you do it the better you are," Anderson said. "You can't just go out there and muscle your way to the front; you have to think about everything you're doing, [racing] is very logical.

"This year has been his year by far," she said.

Although Ian said he would love to continue racing and try a more powerful car to see what he can do, he feels that without sponsorship and with education as his number one priority, he may not be able to devote much more of his future to racing. Ian's parents said they are more than happy for his decision to focus his future on his education.

"He wants to go to college; it's important to him," his mother said. "If you go to college and get an education, it's an investment that's sure to pay off some day."

Until the day Ian goes off to college, the Andersons said they plan to continue supporting Ian's racing as long as they can financially afford it.

His victories are not only a sign of his hard work and determination, but of his mother's and father's as well.

"My dad is my mechanic and my mom helps wherever we need it," Ian said. "They do everything for me. We work together to get across the finish line."