Jake Hooker, 16, remains hot at South Buxton

Sep 9 • Feature Story, Local SportsNo Comments on Jake Hooker, 16, remains hot at South Buxton

Jake Hooker (James MacDonald photo)

Jake Hooker (James MacDonald photo)

Jake Hooker continued his strong season through August and hopes to maintain the momentum in to the final three weeks at South Buxton Raceway. The 16-year-old has had an impressive rookie campaign in the UMP Late Model division at the Merlin, Ont. track.

Hooker’s momentum was slowed a bit this month by rain. Only two races took place throughout August at South Buxton. He and his team used the extra nights off to make sure the Countryview Golf Course/Triple P Farms was prepared perfectly for their next race.

“We went back to the shop and took the body off. We looked everything over. One day the rear-end, next day transmission, the next day tires. We did everything so it wasn’t a rush and it was done right,” explained the well-spoken Hooker.

The time off didn’t appear to bother Hooker who started the month of September with a third-place finish during the Labour Day weekend.

“Last weekend I feel we had the car to beat, but we were too cautious for too long. We definitely can get a win in, so hopefully we can get it soon,” Hooker said.

“I feel we have a winning car. Right now it’s on me. It’s my rookie year and everybody’s being patient with me. Some of the guys are driving in a lot harder than I am and that’s understandable.

Hooker’s first season behind the wheel of a Late Model continues to be an extended learning experience that has also allowed him to taste success. He currently sits third in the UMP Late Model point standings. There’s still plenty to learn for the 11th-grader and he soaks is as much information as he can get.

“I’m watching a lot of videos. I’ll keep watching them and watching them until I know everything by heart,” Hooker outlined. “I’m watching to see where they run, how I run and how much faster their lap times are compared to mine. I’m trying to see what I can improve on.”

This week, Hooker had to return to the classroom as a grade 11 student at Ursuline College. He’ll have to balance school with racing over the next month, which isn’t his strongest area, he admitted.

“I’m not really the best at balancing it. Usually the racecar takes over,” jokes Hooker. “My mom and dad are pretty stiff on me with my grades. When I get home from school, it’s homework time.”

As far as racing goes, Hooker’s biggest focus of late is committing to the outside lane where the car’s true power is often on display. It also leaves the smallest margin for error.

“I’m a guy that likes the bottom, but the car likes the high side. I just need to stick with the high side,” he said. “I’ll go up there with 10 to go, but I should just start on the high side and stay there. For the time I’m up there, you’re just holding on.”

Hooker is using the next two Saturday nights as preparation for South Buxton’s Canadian Fall Shootout weekend on September 23-24. The event often attracts several heavy hitters from the area, including multiple American drivers, with a $3500 winner’s share for two nights.

“There’s going to be a lot of heavy hitters. With a big two-day show like that, you have to keep your nose clean Friday to get a good starting spot for Saturday,” Hooker strategized. “Be fast, but drive with caution. Saturday, it all depends where you start. If you start up front, you go like a bat out of hell.”

If all goes well for Hooker at the Shootout, an event he has won twice in the Sport Stock division, he will travel south and make his first start at the famed Eldora Speedway half-mile in Rossburg, OH for the DIRTcar Fall Nationals September 29 through October 1.

For more information on remaining event at South Buxton Raceway, visit www.southbuxtonraceway.ca.

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