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TEAM CHRIST: Local family to race five cars at Jamestown Speedway

The Christ family's array of No. 79 machines were on display May 4 during Jamestown Speedway's annual test and tune. Photo courtesy CRP Photography

Local veteran race car driver Chuck Christ will be climbing back behind the wheel full time this summer at Jamestown Speedway.

Thanks to the addition of the INEX Legends class, the patriarch of one of the area's premier racing families has designs on showing the kids how it's done on Jamestown's dirt quarter-mile oval. Christ stepped away from full-time racing following the 2011 campaign, the same year his son, Billie, won the Jamestown Stock Car Stampede in his father's WISSOTA B-mod.

The Christ family will be operating a total of five cars this season. Jamestown Speedway comes to life tomorrow night at 7 p.m., weather permitting.

"Billie's been talking trash all year that him and I are going to go at it," Chuck said. "I beat him the other night in Mandan, but he did have some steering problems."

Chuck finished 13th, while Billie crossed 14th, in the 22-car legends feature at Dacotah Speedway's season opener on April 26 in Mandan. Jamestown race fans will want to keep a close eye on legend cars No. 79 and No. 79C. If Chuck and Billie aren't in the seats, odds are Charlie Christ, Chuck's 18-year-old son, and Jaden Christ, Billie's 17-year-old son, will be at the controls.

Charlie and Jaden, a senior and junior, respectively, at Jamestown High School, will both be running full-time WISSOTA street stocks, while Billie will also be back racing an IMCA modified when his work schedule allows. Billie is a full-time employee for the North Dakota Army National Guard.

"My car was pretty bent up the other night," Billie explained. "Had some loose parts, but it was fun running door to door with the old man. I'll probably beat him this week."

The Christ family has taken part in just about everything Jamestown Speedway has come up with over the years. Chuck began his racing career in 1989, taking over a 1979 Z28 Camaro pure stock from Jamestown's Brian Kamlitz. The rest, as they say, was history.

"What happened is his transmission blew up," recalled the 54-year-old Christ. "I drove it that next night, I won the heat ... started in the back of the trophy dash out of eight cars and I won, and then I started on the pole in the feature and I won. So I did a clean sweep the first night I drove that car.

"(Kamlitz) just said, 'The car's yours. I'm the pit man.'"

Christ's No. 79, which pays homage to that first Chevrolet Camaro, also stuck. Billie began using the number when his racing career began at age 14 in the late '90s. Charlie, and nephew Jaden, also sport the number.

"We've done anything from road hogs to some roll-over contest stuff ... Herbie Bowling ... where we'd run into some 55-gallon drums and whoever knocked over the most was the winner," Billie said. "We've pretty much done everything that Jamestown's brought out."

Chuck said the affordable, or inexpensive (INEX), legends class made returning to racing a fairly easy decision. Race-ready machines can be purchased between $5,500 to $7,500, and the uniform, low-maintenance rules keep costs arguably reasonable.

"I haven't had to touch it, more or less," Chuck said. "Tires last a whole season, unless you punch one. The overall maintenance is very minimal and the cars are equal.

"It's like a big go-kart, but don't get me wrong. You push the gas pedal down, it'll throw you sideways."

Charlie, who graduates from JHS this month, built his own WISSOTA street car over the winter, transforming a bare 2019 RaceStar chassis into what he hopes will carry him to victory lane multiple times this summer. Charlie has earned a scholarship to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio's Motorsports College, where he'll major in high-performance motorsports and intern with Penske Racing.

"I think that's the best part, knowing that I built the car from scratch," Charlie said. "I've tightened every bolt, so if something does go wrong I've got nobody else to blame but myself.

"I'm happy to see that my dad's in a car, cause I never really was around my dad when he was full-time racing," Charlie added. "And then, obviously, Jaden. I'll be racing against him, so that's always a fun little rivalry."

Charlie is beginning his fourth season of racing on the big track, while Jaden is entering year No. 2.

"It's an awesome thing. I get all my boys out there," Chuck said. "And, that legend car is probably some of the funnest racing there is."

Billie said that's what makes up for all the hours spent in the shop.

"It's all in good fun," Billie explained. "If we ain't having fun anymore, we're gonna quit."

Kids 12 and under will be admitted into the grandstand free of charge this summer at Jamestown Speedway, while adults are $12. Along with WISSOTA streets, legends and IMCA modifieds, weekly classes will also include WISSOTA midwest modifieds, bombers and slingshots.

The speedway will be doling out a $500 scholarship Saturday night to one lucky area high school senior in attendance.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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