BY DON RADEBAUGH
It is not uncommon for upcoming generations to follow in their family footsteps, which explains why Sylvania Northview High School student and fourth-generation area racer Austin Nemire recently climbed into an ARCA stock car at Toledo Speedway.
Nemire, who just turned 17 on May 25, made his ARCA national tour debut in the Menards 200 May 22.A big leap forthe bravest among us, Nemire not only had never driven a stock car, he had never shifted a car with a clutch before the big race. The hundreds of people, family, friends and fellow classmates that came out to cheer on their hometown hero were no doubt thrilled when Nemire steered the car home in one piece and in the 15th position, a respectable result for even the polished veterans.
“I was pretty satisfied,” Nemire said. “We found a few problems with the car after the race, which explains why we had some handling issues during the race.
“The shifting came easier than I thought. Actually, 200 laps in the ARCA race felt easier than 50 in the Silver Crown car.”
Nemire also races full time in the USAC Silver Crown Series national tour for 1996 Indy 500 champion team owner Ron Hemelgarn. The much lighter Silver Crown machines have an entirely different feel than the heavier ARCA cars. By comparison, the Silver Crown cars weigh 1,625 pounds next to an ARCA stock car, which weighs 3,300 pounds.
“The (ARCA) car wasn’t turning as well as it needed to. When we got it back to the shop, we found some things wrong, which got the right-front (tire) super hot, and made the car even harder to turn.”
Despite some handling issues, Nemire felt good about his outcome in his first ARCA race.The experience left him hungry for more.
“I learned something every lap. I was laying in bed the other night thinking about the whole thing. I’m ready for another 200 laps. It definitely left me wanting more.I want to do it again, as much as I can.”
There’s a lot more that the soon-to-be senior in high school wants to accomplish in professional racing before all is said and done. In fact, Nemire’s got some mighty big dreams.
“It just depends on which opportunities come my way. If the call came in to run NASCAR, that’s what I’d do. I want to run the Indy 500 one day too; mix between the best of both worlds.”
Nemire, who mostly travels on the USAC national tour, was thrilled to have the opportunity to race in front of his hometown crowd.
“Racing in front of my family and friends was such an incredible feeling. I had so much local support. For them to finally come out and see what I do was awesome. So many people came out to see my first ARCA race. My friends thought it was really cool. They said that it looks harder than they thought it would. They also found out how much work goes into it.”
Not only did throngs of school chums come out to see Nemire do this thing, three generations of Nemires were on hand to take it all in, including his grandfather Jerry Nemire, who is well known in racing circles across the United States. Jerry was a USAC Sprint, Silver Crown and Midget Series standout for decades and won the ARCA Midget Series national championship late in his career. The Nemire family racing brand, however, began with the late Kenny Nemire, who lost his life in an ARCA stock car race on the old Toledo Raceway Park dirt track in 1957. He was only 31.
“I never knew my great-grandfather, but I’ve thought about him a lot.Every time someone asks me about how I got started in racing, it all goes back to him.If not for him,I wouldn’t be racing. Everything started with him. I owe a lot to my great grandfather. I would have loved to have known him.”