By Danielle McPherson
What started as a father and son project to rebuild and fix an old beat-up 2006 Pontiac G5 pursuit in their garage in Huntsville, has now turned into a local 15-year-old boy chasing his dream behind the wheel.
Since he was four years old, Ben McPherson has been going to Sunset Speedway in Innisfil with his father, Gord McPherson, and cheering on the racers and hanging out in the pit after races. Now, at 15, Ben will be on the other side of the fence as one of the youngest racers in his division.
Entering the Bone Stock division is a common introduction for many beginner racers, according to Sunset Speedway’s Track Announcer and Social Media Manager, Brendan Doherty.
“Our (Bone Stock) division has been a starting point for many young racers, for example, Connor Maltese who would have been 15 when he raced Bone Stock has graduated up the ranks to our Super Stock division, so it is a really great starting point for those getting into the sport,” said Doherty.
Ben’s mother, Mindy Turner-McPherson, is happy to sit on the sidelines watching Ben and his dad work together on something.
“Ben has always wanted to race so everyone, including myself, are really excited to see Ben pursuing his passion,” she said.
While she cheers from the sidelines, she credits her husband, Ben’s father, with providing Ben with the biggest support. “It’s been more so his dad that has supported and helped him. Gord provided him with the dirt bikes, the go-karts, the karting experience, and project cars to work on.”
Gord said the project car was meant to be something for the two to bond over. He never thought it would lead to Ben being strapped into a race car before he even had his G1 license.
While both parents are excited for him, they also worry. They try and remind each other of the safety measures in place, “He’s got every safety precaution in that car. He’s got his helmet. His neck brace, the five-point harness, fire extinguisher, etc. All of the i’s have been dotted and all the t’s are crossed. Like every other sport, you can’t hold them back, so we’ve protected him the best we can,” said Mindy.
When asked if he is scared of the risks, Ben says he is excited and just wants to get on the track.
“It’s been my dream since I was two… I always grew up around the track. I grew up watching the races. I’ve been going to Sunset for my birthday since I can remember. It will be nice to be on the other side this season,” said Ben.
After two seasons of go-karting, Ben says he feels prepared to race in full-sized cars. “The first time I went out for go-karting I was terrified. But after the first race, after a few spinouts and crashes, it changed it. It made it so I didn’t have to be afraid of it, instead, I learned from it.” Ben hopes it is the same for his Bone stock racing but added, “I’m hoping we can do without the crashes.”
Starting the McPherson Motorsports Facebook page for friends, family, and supporters to follow the journey of Ben’s racing career, the father and son are thankful for the encouragement they have received.
Through the Facebook page, McPherson Motorsports has also attracted a handful of sponsors to help fund and support the passion. “It’s been very, very, incredible. We have a lot of support from local businesses and even some south-based businesses that are closer to Sunset Speedway. We have about a dozen partners and growing,” said Ben.
Throughout all stages of life, Ben’s dreams and passions have been supported, his seventh and eighth-grade teacher, Greg Pitts, is one who made a lasting impression on Ben.
Pitts always encouraged Ben to follow his ambitions. Pitts said when Ben had to do a history project he picked the history of an engine.
Now two years after graduating from Pitts’s Grade Eight class, Pitts is happy to see Ben still actively perusing the dreams he started with. “He always said that was what he was going to do. It’s great to see Ben’s perseverance, and I’m proud of what he’s done,” says Pitts.
Ben’s good attitude and willingness to learn made him a well-known face at the go-karting track. “Everyone (at the track) was happy to see him do well because he was always happy to see everyone else do well. Ben has a competitive side, but he has a very good sportsman side too… he’s okay if you beat him, if you beat him fair,” said Gord.
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