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Amateur Athlete: Mike Wheeler

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The Speed Sport Challenge at Millbridge Speedway featured Outlaw Spring Karts on one of the sport’s biggest stage and many of racing’s big names. Mike Wheeler was not one of those big names.

“Honestly I didn’t think I was going to win because it was almost too good to be true to drive all the way across the country and win the race,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler did win the race, beating some of the top racers in the sport; something his car owner and teammate Ryan Foster said could catapult him in to the next echelon of racing.

“It’s huge. Anytime you can get on national TV and do something like he did is going to be a good opportunity,” Foster said. “He definitely put a whooping on them when he was there. It wasn’t like he had to race for it. He pretty much kicked their butts pretty bad.”

“When you get around bigger people like that, not necessarily that I want to get a ride from them, but maybe show my talent, maybe somebody would give me a help out, maybe do something bigger than go-karts someday,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler admits to sometimes thinking about giving up on the sport, but moments like the one at Millbridge keep him going.

“It seems like every time I think that, I win something like this,” Wheeler said. “It puts that spark right back in me, and I’ve just got to keep on plugging away.”

So he keeps on racing, continuing a dream that began over 20 years ago.

“My dad, he actually passed away in ’07. My whole life growing up, that was him and me every weekend,” Wheeler said. “The things that I’ve done lately, it’s like, man, it’s almost like he’s been right there helping me through all of it.”

“He probably would have never got to where he is now if it wasn’t for his old man,” Foster said. “I wish he was still here to see what he’s done because it would be pretty cool.”

On race day it’s just Wheeler and his kart out on the track, but his big pile of trophies are not just for him, but for his father, his owner and teammate and a 42-hour road trip that paid off.