There weren’t many celebratory hugs. No time to relax or reflect. Just barely enough time to make the next race.
Jack Handley Jr. kept the good times rolling — or driving — after winning the 20-lap Blunderbust feature event Saturday at Riverhead Raceway. His day wasn’t over, however, as he immediately got ready for the ensuing race, the 20-lap Super Pro Trucks feature event.
The results: Two races, two victories for Handley.
“At first I was just kind of shocked,” said Handley of Medford. “I couldn’t believe it. I got the first race done and I got in the other car and I guess I totally forgot about the race before. I was just focusing on that race but then after I won the second one, I was just like ‘You got to be kidding me.’”
Handley Jr., 20, credits others for his accomplishment, like his father Jack Handley, a former racer. Handley Jr. remembers watching his father race up to about the age 6, when Handley Sr. stopped and began teaching his children the sport. Handley Jr. started racing Go Karts at 8 and cars at 14.
“I just wanted to be like my Dad,” he said. “I used to go to the track all the time and watch him race, so I just always wanted to race.”
Handley Jr. does his best to remain poised on the racetrack. He didn’t credit winning the second of the back-to-back races to an adrenaline rush. He countered with something else. Calmness
“If I’m calm, it’s almost like I’m just driving like I’m on the road,” he said. “I’m not overdriving when calm. I’m going through every corner, hitting my marks. So I would say I was pretty calm the second race because I was coming off the first race.”
Handley Jr. also seems as mature as any 20-year-old racer. Despite his age, success and love for racing, Handley Jr. is focused on improving himself outside of the sport.
He’s attending St. John’s University and studying (of all things) risk management. He laughs and says “It doesn’t make a lot of sense” studying risk management during the week then racing cars at dangerous speeds over the weekends. But Handley Jr. also sees similarities as he aspires to work in insurance — and use his earnings to propel his racing career.
“When I’m on the track sometimes you weigh out options, so I guess there’s so much involvement trying to look at the big picture,” he said. “You’re trying to see like ‘Oh this could happen or this could happen’ and this is a better path to take.”
But when Handley Jr. returns to the track Saturday, he’s back to business. He’s proud of his double-win accomplishment, but knows that doesn’t give him a better chance to win the following week.
“When I go back to the track Saturday, I kind of just reset,” Handley Jr. said. “I’m just like ‘I’ve got to try to do that again.’ It probably won’t happen but that’s what we shoot for every week.”