(June 14, 2017) The Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 100 is this Saturday night. It’s the first big Sportsman race of the season and will attract a solid field of competitive drivers. There will be a good mix of veterans and youth on Speedway 660 when the race takes the green flag. Hudson Weston is one of our younger drivers and he’s anxious to get more experience in these longer races.
A Conversation with Hudson Weston
Wade: First off Hudson tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into racing and how you ended up in a Sportsman car?
Hudson: I am 16 years old and in grade eleven at Simonds High School in Saint John. I got my driver’s licence three months ago and I just bought my first car, a 2007 Ford Mustang GT. It took me three summers to save my money to get it. I’ve always played baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter.
My Dad and Uncles were on the pit crew for my cousin’s AOW and Sportsman race team (Jamie Brown). When my Dad saw the Bandolero cars racing he thought it looked like fun. The next thing I knew he bought a Bandolero and we went racing. After three years, I literally out grew the bando.Hudson always has a big smile on race day. He had a lot of success in our Bandolero division before stepping up to Sportsman.
Wade: Many of you started racing together in bandolero and now you’ve moved up together too. There are a lot of bando graduates on the Speedway 660 roster, particularly in Sportsman. You’ve probably made some good friends through racing and had some good rivalries too.
Hudson: Racing has always been about family for us. My Dad (Rodney) and Mom (Dawn) always say that is the best thing about it. We spend the weekends of the summer at the track together making memories. I’m a pretty quiet guy and don’t talk too much. On the other hand my Dad and Uncles never stop talking, so I have learned to listen a lot.
I’ve raced with a lot of kids my own age and some veterans after moving up to Sportsman. I’ve made some good friends in racing. As for rivalries, what happens on the track each week stays on the track and I just look forward to the next race.Hudson’s Dad and Uncles are a big part of the Weston race team. Their support and encouragement has helped make this young man’s racing dreams come true.
Wade: What was it like the first time you got out of the bando and jumped into the Sportsman to race and what are the main differences between the two?
Hudson: Obviously, the biggest difference is the size and power. The lap times for a bando aren’t that much slower than the Sportsman, so it was the size of the car that concerned me the most. The biggest adjustment was getting the feel for the car on the track. I really like that I get more track time with the Sportsman, the races in Bando seemed so short.The Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division is the second highest class of racing in the Maritimes. Hudson (#43) is patiently learning his craft in the big car, improving each week and having fun.
Wade: The Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division has thrilled fans here since 1994. Are you aware of the history of this division and what Sportsman racing has meant to our fans over the years?
Hudson: Not really, remember I’m only 16 and Speedway 660 has been going since 1994, a little before my time. I’m just in my 5th year at Speedway 660 and before that my racing was the go-kart (coaster derby) races at Old Home Week in St. Martins (where I’m from).
I should mention that being recognized as Speedway 660’s Most Improved Driver, once in Bando and once in Sportsman, has given me a lot of confidence. I don’t know who picks that award, but it’s nice to know that someone else thinks I am improving. Hudson’s Dad has always supported his son’s racing from the Coaster Derby back home in St. Martins to Bando and Sportsman at 660. Rodney Weston, former New Brunswick Member of the Legislative Assembly & Cabinet Minister and Canadian Member of Parliament, has always made time to go to the rinks, ball fields and race tracks to support his son.
Wade: It takes a big commitment from a lot of folks to put together a race team and come to the track every week. Who helps you out and makes the wheels go around on your race car?
Hudson: My Dad works on the car through the week with his brothers who come to every race and are the pit crew. Uncle Geoff and Uncle Bruce Weston, Debway (Scott & Cory Little) and Lonnie Sommerville help out a lot.
My sponsors are also very important and I really appreciate their support. Bayview Trucks & Equipment, Valley Equipment Ltd., Shoreland Transport Inc. and Debway Truck Bodies are very supportive of my racing. Hudson signed autographs and handed out treats to young fans during Speedway 660’s Kid’s Day. He appreciates fans of all ages and knows they are the driving force of our sport.
Wade: Who are some of your favourite drivers, both here at 660 and in NASCAR?
Hudson: At Speedway 660 my favorite driver is John Rankin. He is a cousin (his Grandmother and my Grandfather are brother and sister) and he has been a mentor for me too. I remember one day last year when nothing seemed to be going right. Just then John came to our trailer to talk to me and to give me some encouragement. It’s just the kinda of guy he is. He races clean, gets good results and is well respected at the track.
In NASCAR my favorite driver Joey Logano. He is one of the best and he drives a Ford.Hudson’s favourite driver is John Rankin. John, who won the Sportsman feature last week, is one of Speedway 660’s most gentlemanly racers. John encourages Hudson to race hard, race fair and do his best every week.
Wade: Racing is a summer sport here in the Maritimes. So what do you do for fun the rest of the year?
Hudson: Hockey has always been my passion. I am a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan and was pretty happy the other night when they won the Cup for the second straight year. I play a lot of hockey and I’m a defenseman. For the last few years, I was on my skates 12 months of the year.
I have played AAA in the past, but this past year I played at a lower level but still had a lot of fun. This is the first summer I won’t be on the ice because racing and working will keep me busy. My favorite thing is playing pickup hockey with my Dad and Uncles on Saturday mornings in St. Martins.Hudson was really happy to see Sidney Crosby raise the Stanley Cup on Sunday night. Hudson loves playing hockey and the Pittsburgh Penguins are his favouritie NHL team.Hudson (far left) is a pretty good hockey player too. Weston and his team mates wrapped up a great season of their own before the NHL play-offs began.
Wade: Hey Hudson the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 100 is your first chance this year to run a long race. How do you feel heading into the weekend?
Hudson: I am really excited about the race this weekend. I have been feeling good in the car this year and I am feeling more confident. Just need to be patient because it is a long race and you want the car to be there at the end. Have to try to stay out of trouble too.Hudson knows the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 100 will be a long, tough race. He hopes to have a good run and bring the 43 home with a nice finish.
Wade: Good luck this weekend and we hope you have a great season here at 660.
Hudson: Thanks a lot. I also want to thank the owners and staff at Speedway 660 for giving us a great place to race, Richard and Anne from Martin’s Home Heating for sponsoring the Sportsman Division and all of the fans who come see us race every week.