COLUMBIA — Aric Bremer slowly drives his black Chevrolet Corsica, with new blue flames painted on the hood, from the pit area to the muddy track. Shortly after revving his engine a few times at the edge of the arena, he remembers one last thing he has to do before the race starts – sing the National Anthem.
Jumping out through the hole where his driver's window once was, Bremer jogs up to the announcer's booth as Scotty Cook, organizer and announcer of the race, asks the audience on the other side of the track to please rise and remove their hats. After Bremer finishes belting out the anthem, he trots back to his car, giving a quick nod to his father-in-law and fellow racer Billy Hendren before climbing in his car.
Racing gives Bremer and Hendren a chance to bring their families together in a shared activity. The two Columbia residents did just that Wednesday night at the Boone County Fair where they competed in the figure-eight race in the second annual Door Banger Nationals put on by Cook, another Columbia resident.
"I think a big problem these days is that families don't spend enough time together," Bremer said. "Racing brings us closer together." Bremer and his family try to attend races together every Friday and Saturday.
Bremer went on to take eighth place at the event while Hendren wasn’t able to finish after a crash rendered his car motionless. But the two see racing as more than just a chance to win prizes and gain notoriety.
“Working on our cars and racing together gives us a chance to spend more time with our family than we normally would,” Hendren said.
“It’s definitely a family sport,” Bremer added, pointing to his family in the stands.
Sitting in the stands wearing matching fuchsia ‘Hendren Motorsports’ T-shirts, Bremer calls his family and friends the “Pink Posse.” His wife Brandy Bremer, who is expecting their first child “any day now,” cheered her husband and Hendren, who is her father, from the grandstand.
Even though Bremer’s father had a racing team when he was growing up, Aric Bremer never raced on his own until he got married and started hanging out more with the Hendren family. From there, the two families brought their rich tradition of family-oriented racing together to form one cohesive unit.
“It wasn’t until I bought a car for Aric that he started racing,” Hendren remembers. “He took one look at it and said ‘Yeah, of course I’ll race it!”
Racing has been a longstanding tradition in the Hendren family, and Billy Hendren has been racing since 1969.
“I’ve been racing for a very long time,” he said. “But I only started figure-eight racing about 3 years ago.” Both Hendren and Bremer plan to race in next year's event.
Spending anywhere from $400-$500 on a given figure-eight race car, the families work on the cars weekly during race season to ensure a safe and effective vehicle for racing.
“It’s a cheap way to get out here, spend time with family, and have some fun,” Hendren said.