Like many people involved in motorsports, racing lured Sheldon Crouse to North Carolina. But about three years after his arrival, the California native decided to focus his attention on becoming a first responder in Cabarrus County.
“Originally, I wanted to be a firefighter,” Crouse said. “I went to school and got my degree in fire protection. Then I took my EMT class and discovered I really liked it. Then I decided to go on to paramedic school.”
Today, the 22-year-old Mooresville resident balances Legend car racing with his 24-hour on, 48-hour off paramedic schedule.
“Three or four days have fallen on Tuesdays for the Summer Shootout, but I have been able to switch with people,” said Crouse, who became a paramedic in December 2013. “I would work Mondays and then get off Tuesday morning so I could race. They’ve been really helpful at work with that. Cabarrus County is racing central so everybody understands. A lot of them work at the race track, so they’re very understanding compared to another county in another state where nobody really gets racing.”
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Crouse’s best finish in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Jack In The Box Summer Shootout Series Legend Semi-Pro Division was second. During the speedway’s Winter Heat Series he won two races and the division championship.
Crouse, who normally goes to the race shop as soon as he finishes his paramedic shift, also has collected victories this year in the Winter Nationals at Auburndale Speedway in Winter Haven, Fla., and at Kentucky Speedway.
“I just love racing,” Crouse said. “It’s more of a lifestyle than anything. I grew up doing it. I’d rather be at a race track than anywhere else. I go broke trying to do it, so, obviously, I love it.”
A Groveland, Calif., native, Crouse began racing go-karts at 6. During weekend events he met competitor Steven Cantrell, from Bakersfield, Calif., and the two boys soon became best friends.
They would be at one or the other’s house on the weekends when they were racing because they competed for the same team. Then in high school Crouse stopped racing, concentrating instead on soccer, baseball and basketball. Once he graduated high school, he headed to North Carolina where Cantrell raced Legend cars and worked full-time in the sport.
“I moved (to North Carolina) the day after I graduated high school,” said Crouse, who was 17 at the time and made the journey with an airline ticket his mother had given him for graduation. “We had my graduation and I left at like 4 o’clock the next morning to go to the airport. I got here on a Friday, he (Cantrell) picked me up at the airport and we went to Anderson (S.C.) and raced that night.”
Crouse found a job working on Legend cars at Concord-based Devo Motorsports, and the hours were grueling.
“That was the first year of the Legends Million,” said Crouse, who worked at Devo Motorsports for around two and a half years. “I got here at the beginning of June and we didn’t have a day off until August.”
Even though Crouse didn’t race for several years, the enjoyment he found in racing’s competitiveness drew him back into the sport.
“I’ll race anything,” Crouse said with a laugh. “I’ll race shopping carts. I just want to compete with everything. I want to win everything that I’m in. It’s the adrenalin rush, just getting the most out of something that you can possibly get. There are race car drivers and then there are racers and I feel like I’m a racer.”
Ryan victorious at Motor Mile
Concord’s Payton Ryan emerged victorious in a four-car charge to the finish at Motor Mile Speedway to win the second race in the Michael Huffman Memorial TWIN 75s.
The rookie late model driver started second due to the inversion of the field following the first feature at the Radford, Va., track and led the first 51 laps.
He lost the lead following the first caution period, but it was the third and final yellow flag that gave him the victory opportunity. In a two-lap dash to the finish, Ryan prevailed over two-time defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam for his fourth career late model victory.
Peyton Sellers finished third and Tommy Lemons fourth. The margin from first to fourth was 0.13 seconds.
Ayers wins at Carolina
Concord resident Ryan Ayers closed out July with a victory at Carolina Speedway in the OWM Stock Car Steel SRI feature. Ayers is fifth in the track’s standings, 35 points behind leader Shawn Martin of Charlotte.
Schrader enjoying success on dirt
Concord resident Ken Schrader, who retired last year from NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, is experiencing a successful summer on the nation’s dirt tracks.
Since mid-July, Schrader has won a BST/IMCA Modified race at El Paso County Speedway in Calhan, Colo., finished fourth at Thomas County Speedway in Colby, Kan., and taken second at Phillips County Speedway in Holyoke, Colo.
He also finished fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mud Summer Dirt Classic at Eldora Speedway. The 59-year-old Schrader returned to pavement at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis where he finished 10th in the 100-lap USAC Silver Crown event and seventh in the SCOTT Get Geared Up 200 ARCA race.
Moody victorious at Orange County
Landis resident Hunter Moody defeated Devin O’Connell of Madison, Conn., in this season’s eighth Allison Legacy Series race. Kannapolis residents Daniel Bedford and Jake Ruggles finished third and fifth, respectively. Robbie Allison, son of the late NASCAR driver Davey Allison, took fourth in the race at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont.
Pressley 2nd at Summertime Showdown
Kannapolis resident Coleman Pressley, a crew chief in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East, used the circuit’s off-weekend to return to the driver’s seat in the Mooresville-based CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series.
Pressley, a Pro Cup race victor earlier this year, dueled standings’ leader Caleb Holman in the closing laps before having to settle for second in the Summertime Showdown 250 at Orange County Speedway.
Pressley led 17 laps in the race at the Rougemont track. The 25-year-old Pressley is the son of former NASCAR driver Robert Pressley and the grandson of the late short-track ace Bob Pressley.
Fittipaldi Family Celebrates Wins on 2 Continents
Cousins Christian and Pietro Fittipaldi recently returned their family to victory lane in two different series on two different continents on the same race weekend.
Christian was the first to celebrate a victory, joining Action Express Racing co-driver Joao Barbosa in winning the Brickyard Grand Prix. It was the second victory this season for the Denver, N.C.-based team, which won the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The victory returned Action Express Racing to the lead in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship standings. The No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype is the only car to have completed every race lap in the series this year.
Pietro followed his cousin with a win at England’s Brands Hatch in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship. It was the Davidson resident’s sixth victory this season in the series.
Line snares Chevrolet’s 200th NHRA Pro Stock victory
Mooresville’s Jason Line earned Chevrolet’s 200th NHRA Pro Stock victory in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Line’s 33rd career Pro Stock victory also guaranteed him a position in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.
The victory was his third at Sonoma and came a week after he received the low qualifier award at Denver.
Bohn victorious at Bowman Gray
Mooresville resident Danny Bohn recently snapped his winless streak, taking a modified victory at Bowman Gray Stadium. Bohn is third in the Stadium’s standings.
Turner Scott takes ARCA victory
Mooresville-based Turner Scott Motorsports, with Brandon Jones driving, won the July 25 SCOTT Get Geared Up 200 ARCA race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. Jones competes full time for Turner Scott in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East where he is fifth in the standings.
Mooresville reschedules points race
Mooresville Dragway officials have rescheduled points race No. 3 for Aug. 23. Officials said that would prevent a conflict with Farmington Dragway’s points race.