RPW Column: From A Grandstands Seat To The Driver’s Seat, Kevin Ames Lived His Dream In ’22
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – STEPHENTOWN, NY – Living a childhood dream.
That was what Lebanon Valley Sportsman racer Kevin Ames has been doing since trading in his seat in the grandstands for a driver’s seat with designs on making it to victory lane.
In 2022, with the creation of the Limited Sportsman class at the track, Ames decided this was the best direction for him and his team.
It proved to be was right move.
While setting his dream on warp speed, the Stephentown, NY driver made history. He was able to park his #43 in victory lane on two occasions at his weekly home and became the first ever division champion in track history.
“Even though it was a dream of mine, I truly never dreamt that we’d be able to capture the championship last season,” Ames said. “For 30 years, I was always on the other side of the fence. Two years ago, I began to live my childhood dream and it’s been a hell of an experience to say the least.”
In 2022, to go along with those two wins, Ames finished in the top 5 an astonishing 12 times but it all came down to the last few laps of the final race to see who was going to win the championship.
In the end, Kevin held on to grab the title by two markers over Karl Barnes. However, it was the experience that made the year even more special.
“From the battles on the high banks, to the friendships in the pits, to everyone jumping in to give a hand, it’s been really cool to see this from the insides, not just a kid in the stands,” he said. “Going from being the new guy to the underdog and now a Limited Sportsman champion, this is a huge accomplishment for this two-man crew.”
Two man? Yup you heard that right. Ames was able to accomplish this feat with just one other member of his team, but that member is pretty close to the driver.
“Last year, we had a bunch of used parts and a new body covering it,” he said. “That being said, my biggest thank you goes to my crew chief, the mechanic, the body guy and my pit crew. That’s my dad. I can’t thank you enough.”
When the season began, the goal for Ames and his father were to just run well. Unfortunately, that was not how things kicked off.
“Things started off pretty rough,” he said. “All we wanted to do was go out there, run well and have a chance at getting to victory lane.”
That first win came on June 11th and he backed it up a month later on July 16th.
“When we got the first win, I was in awe,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen again so I savored every moment of it. Then, we got the second and I felt like we could do it more and more. That was big for our team.”
Was there ever a time when Ames felt like winning the track championship was within his grasp?
No, not at all,” he said. “Actually, I really wasn’t even paying attention to points and Frank Twing pointed out that we were second and I had no idea. I was just looking to run well. It all ended up coming down to the final checkered flag and we were able to get it done.”
Even though they weren’t actually part of the 43 team, Ames had several of his competitors that gave him support and encouragement throughout the 2022 racing campaign.
“Having people like Dave Goodermote, Whitey Slavin, Chris Lynch and Frank Twing in my corner was very big,” he said. “From their hand-me-downs and set-up help to even just sharing a beer with some good conversation. That’s what makes this sport so special to me.”
Ames also knows how fortunate he is to be able to race every week, thanks to his amazing sponsor support.
“I have to thank everyone that’s made this possible for us,” he said. “Saviano & Sons Seasonal Services, Warner & Son Plumbing and Heating, Markou & Sons Electric, RC Designs, the Bottle & Can Co., Rocky Hill Country Store, Imperial Concert Concepts, MRB Darcy Dirtworks, Zia’s Pizza, DMC Racing Products and MJP Photos. I can’t thank all of you enough for your support along the way.”
Ames will return to the Valley of Speed in 2023 to defend his title. However, no matter what happens going forward, he now knows he’s been able to accomplish something he’s wanted to do for quite some time.
“This has been surreal,” he said. “It’s all been a dream come true since I was a little kid. Never did I ever think I’d be standing here as a champion at the Lebanon Valley Speedway. This has been unbelievable.”
See? Dreams can come true. You just have to believe.
A Special Note From Kevin, In His Own Words…
“This has been more than a childhood dream come true. I couldn’t dream this! It’s been an unbelievable experience, meeting great people along the way, having fun and enjoying life as one big race family.
People you don’t even know rooting for you or willing to help you without even asking is truly a great feeling.
Thank you to all my sponsors, fans, family and friends for your continued support. I wouldn’t be doing this without you! Here’s to a great 2022 race season!
We’re looking forward to the 2023 season with all my sponsors returning this year and some huge help coming aboard. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”