They may not be Earnhardts or Unsers, but Holtsville’s Fortin family has been known to have father and kids on a NASCAR leader board at the same time.
John Sr., 53, heads into July as Riverhead Raceway’s NASCAR Modified points standings with John Jr., 23, in 11th place. Even better was the 2013 season at Evergreen Raceway in Drums, Pennsylvania, where Amber, now 24, finished in third place to her dad’s second and her brother’s fourth.
John Sr., who has been racing Modifieds since 16, says winning is important but doing it with his kids makes it better.
“I want them to succeed,” John Sr. said. “They think I care but I don’t. The proudest day of my life is going to be when we finish 1,2,3 — whenever that happens.”
John Jr. started racing modifieds, also at 16, because of his father. When his friends were at the movies, he was working on cars in the garage with his dad. He wanted to be like his father and drive and now he hopes to build his own legacy at Riverhead Raceway.
“I can only hope to accomplish what he has in his career,” John Jr. said. “He has championships, a lot of wins . . . obviously you always want to do what your father did and do better so I can only hope.”
And the father understands it’s natural that his children want to compete against him. Even more than compete, they want to win. John Sr. will never give a race away — he still has the motivation to race and to win — and he wants his children to act the same way.
“He needs to have that drive,” said John Sr., who has won three NASCAR Modified championships. “He should want to beat me. I am a guy he needs to race with every week so he should want to beat me.”
And for John Sr., being a spectator is even harder so he prefers sharing a track with his children, saying it’s “way more” difficult to watch from the grandstands. And when they race together, the family can enjoying their successes with each other.
“When he’s in front of me, I’m like ‘Come on boy, you can do this.’ I’m rooting for him,” John Sr. said. “My career is on the way down, he’s on his way up.”
John Sr. and John Jr. understand the special bond of family on the racetrack. And hope to see that continue — like the Evergreen success — even though Amber, of Medford, isn’t racing this year.
“To see three family members at the top of the board at second, third and fourth was pretty cool,” John Jr. said. “How many people can say that?”
The Fortin’s can — and maybe they’ll be able to do the same near home.
“If we can do that at Riverhead, that would be the coolest.”