A drive to race:FF council member Rachels’ passion for the speedway dates back to 1976 [UPDATED]Published 3:55am Monday, July 15, 2013 Updated 5:58am Monday, July 15, 2013
Fergus Falls native Scott Rachels started as a street stock racer back in 1993. He raced for a couple of years but then took a break. He didn’t jump back into the car for a race until a week ago at I-94 Speedway.
The reason for the long hiatus from the cockpit? When his daughter Megan was born in 1995, he promised not to race again until she graduated. The decision was about finances, the element of racing risk and family being No. 1. Megan got her diploma this June.
“I wouldn’t break my promise,” Rachels said. “She (Megan) was happy to see me get back in it again.”
Rachels’ involvement with racing goes back to 1976. He’s built cars, engines and kept in touch with the racing world since then, even when he wasn’t driving. In 2002, he started a go-cart team. He also owns and operates Scot’s Machine Shop in Fergus Falls and was elected to the city council in 2010.
His fondness for racing started when he was a kid and the neighbor across the street had a race car. Rachels started hanging around with him and the rest is history. He never wanted to be one of the top racers out there; he just wanted to enjoy it.
“It’s a passion,” he said. “And it’s addiction. Once you start racing, it’s hard to get away from it. It’s a competitiveness. It’s almost worse than drugs; that drive to race.”
With addictions, that’s all you want to do, and racing is no different, Rachels said.
“Racing is a healthier addiction,” he said. “We just think about racing.”
Racing is a hobby, but it isn’t necessarily a cheap hobby. An initial investment to buy a car ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. Weekly racing expenses can range from $100 for basic needs to $2,000, if you encounter some problems.
“It’s expensive,” Rachels said. “It’s a hobby, is what it is. You don’t do it to make money.”
As he knocks off “race car driver” from his bucket list, he knows what a rare opportunity he has and that a lot of people who love the same chance. Driving is the most fun, but he also enjoys working on the car because it gives him satisfaction, he said.
For anyone else that might want to get started racing, Rachels said you need a car, a trailer and vehicle to pull it, fire suit, helmet, and a gas jug. Oh, “and a pocketful of money.”
July 5 at I-94 Speedway was his first race back in the driver’s seat. He drove car No. 38, custom built and owned by a friend. He finished 10th in the street stock feature race. It felt good to be back in the car, he said, even if he was a little nervous knowing a lot of his friends showed up to watch him.
Rachels plans to race the rest of this season and then see what happens. After all, he still has his business, family and city council as part of his life, too.
“I got too many irons in the fire,” Rachels said. “It’s a lifestyle that I enjoy, but I don’t know how long I can keep it up.”