Country Music, Fast Cars…and Gary West!
Country music star Gary West will trade-in his cowboy hat for a crash helmet to race a 602 Open Wheel Modified at Lavonia Speedway.
By: Gary West Music
Being born and raised 35 miles east of Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis 500, racing always captured West's attention. His father ignited his interest in racing, starting Gary off at age 4 with Go-Karts and minibikes. However, a music career was calling West's name and he hit the road performing with many prominent country artists, including the Drifting Cowboys, Tommy Cash, brother of Johnny Cash, and Jett Williams, daughter of Hank Williams. West has also had the supreme pleasure to perform on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry for 12 years as the drummer for the legendary Little Jimmy Dickens.
With cars and car themes being synonymous with country music, racing is a natural fit for West. And his need for speed has been shared by another country icon before him – he is preceded by country music chart-topper Marty Robbins, who had the distinction to race NASCAR.
Says West, an experienced racer in his own right, "Although music had been my life, when I was 29, I came home off the road, sold all my gear and started racing Go-Karts. After a few years of karting, I moved into Champ cars. I placed 5th in the IKF regionals that year. After that, I did a couple of off-road competitions in a one-seat race buggy in the 1600 cc class."
Regarding this race at Lavonia, West shares, "We will be in the Crate 602 Open Wheel Modified Class. These are professional racing chassis with basic factory GM motors to keep the competition even. The open wheels on the front make for some of the most exciting closed-circuit dirt racing on the planet with some of the most highly skilled drivers you will find. There is a tremendous amount of competition, time, and money that go into these cars. I can't thank Dink McKeehan enough for making this a reality."
The car that West will be commandeering is owned by Chris "Dink" McKeehan, whom West became acquainted with when purchasing a motorhome from him. They found that they shared a passion for the sport of racing. West mentioned his desire to race again and McKeehan didn't hesitate to offer West the opportunity to drive his car for the event at Lavonia Speedway; a dream come true for West!
Dink McKeehan began racing in 1988 at the age of 8 when his dad gifted him a Go-Kart. In 2000, he moved on to race cars at Lanier National Speedway until an opening presented working with Mark Gibson Racing (MGR) in the Arca Menard Series. After leaving the world of racing for a bit to settle into family life, he purchased a dirt car and started to race again locally. Much like West, racing is in the family bloodline. McKeehan's son Cole was racing karts by age 4, eventually graduating to a Bandolero at Atlanta Motor Speedway where he won 4 races in 2 years. McKeehan's youngest son Parker is also following in Dad's footsteps, making racing a full family affair.
To McKeehan, though, winning isn't everything. He sums up his personal stance on racing, "The winner isn't the one with the fastest car, it's the one who doesn't quit."
In West's family, the apple also doesn't fall far from the tree, "My love for the sport that was instilled in me by my father has caught fire with my family and has come full circle. My son Kyle Boger raced USAC Quarter Midgets in Nashville, TN for two seasons."
As West readies for this race, he fondly remembers his father who has since passed away, "We were at the track almost every weekend. My father took me to Daytona every year and we would travel to 2-3 NASCAR races a year. I grew up watching legendary racers like Al Foyt, the Unsers, and Andretti. I will never forget when my dad and I were at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and as they were about the drop the green flag, my dad said, 'Boy, son, I wish I could have done this just once.' This one's for you, Dad!"
West is celebrating another milestone – his first magazine cover. He is the featured artist for the upcoming July/August issue of the global music publication ION Indie Magazine. However, he won't have much time to rest on his laurels as it will be back to the business of making music for West -- after the race in Lavonia, West will bring his scintillating show "For The Love Of Cash" to the historic Express St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM, on July 4th, 5th, and 6th.
Learn more about Gary West and his music at www.garywestmusic.com. For interviews and media inquiries, contact Kiki Plesha at kiki.plesha@
Kiki Plesha, Publicist
Rock Mother Promotions