Latrobe senior continues climb on Legend circuit
The idea of racing a car up to 110 miles per hour around a track — which is usually just a quarter mile — probably wouldn't be appealing to most people.
Throw in the fact that the cars are just 46 inches in height, 60 inches wide and roughly 10 feet long, and you soon discover it takes a special kind of skill.
Latrobe's Justin Bolton has just that talent — and lots of it.
Based on his impressive resume of accomplishments, Bolton should be a widely recognized name in Western Pennsylvania athletics.
After all, he is a Pennsylvania state champion and has finished several national races at or near the top of the standings.
Nevertheless, this area isn't known as racing country. In fact, few are aware of Legend Car racing. But that could change due to Bolton's recent climb up the national rankings.
So far in 2012, the Latrobe High School senior has finished ninth out of 391 semi-pro drivers in the Legend Car Series National Points — including nine trips to victory lane.
Bolton also won Rookie of the Year at the highly competitive Lake Erie Speedway. He finished sixth in overall points out of 48 Legend Car drivers.
While his ultimate goal is to race on the sports highest level — NASCAR — for now Bolton is looking to spend at least one more season in his Legend car. Some of NASCAR's elite racers — Kyle Busch and Joey Logano — are alumni of the Legend circuit.
“Right now, I'm getting ready for the winter heats in mid-December,” he said. “It should be good. It's exciting to start a new season. After this I'd like to try and move up to the late models.”
Bolton's racing career began as many others did — by going to go-cart races.
“It (attending races) sparked my interest,” he said. “And then one time we just said it's time to try it out.”
The experiment turned out to be a very good decision. Bolton spent about five years racing carts and then found Legend to be the logical next step.
“It's been a great experience,” he said. “Legend cars aren't very big, but they have a lot of horsepower in a small car. They are a great way to learn racing.”
In October, Bolton won the prestigious 2012 Race of Champions at the famed Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race field consisted of the top qualifying drivers from across the country.
“A lot of moving up in racing is being in the right place at the right time,” Bolton said. “We're hoping to get some sponsors and continue to the next levels.”
For now, anyway, Bolton has made a habit of finding himself in the right place at the right time on many occasions.
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.