Race organizer treats fathers as champions

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Craig Mansfield of Denver urned to go-kart racing to help heal from the death of his son, who liked the sport. Mansfield set up racing for disabled veterans and a challenge between law enforcement personnel and National Guardsmen at Grand Junction Motor Speedwayin honorof Father’s Day.

The need for speed was met during a special Father’s Day event at Grand Junction Motor Speedway.

In addition to open division racing, the card Sunday included Wounded Warrior races with go-karts adapted for disabled veterans, and the Racing for Heroes team event, in which local law enforcement personnel raced members of the Colorado National Guard.

The maximum speed for Racing for Heroes was 70 mph, which was plenty fast for first-time racer — and father of two — Mike Mulder.

Mulder said it took him “seconds” to find four other people from the Army recruiting office in Grand Junction willing to spend Father’s Day at a racetrack.

Although Mulder, of Grand Junction, did not win his heat, he was thankful to be sharing Father’s Day with his daughters, Lexy Mulder, 7, and Haley Mulder, 8.

Lexy said her other present for dad, besides taking him   to the racetrack, “might be a surprise.”

The Racing for Heroes and Wounded Warrior events were planned by Craig Mansfield, whose son, Kris, was killed by a drunken driver in 2004 as he was traveling to reunite with his parents in Denver after serving with the Air Force in Iraq.

Go-kart racing, which his son enjoyed, became therapeutic for Mansfield. He became fond of Grand Junction Motor Speedway and set up the racing Sunday with the help of the National Guard. Mansfield sponsored the event through the Peak One Award Foundation, which he set up in memory of his son.

Although a good number of people at the speedway were not local, including Mansfield, John Davella and his son Tony Davella of Palisade were happy to share the track Sunday with outsiders.

“We are all family out here,” Tony Davella said, which was welcome news to Mansfield, who already has booked the Grand Junction Motor Speedway for next Father’s Day.

The Davella duo raced in open divisions with much more explosion. Tony Davella hoped to hit nearly 117 mph in his kart.

The father and son found a love of go-kart racing together several years ago and haven’t stopped racing since, making Father’s Day much like any other weekend spent covered in oil.

When asked what they did on Father’s Day before the family found go-karts, Tony Davella said, “We always built something together.”


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