CHEYENNE, Wyo. - After bolting the tire on, the father and son duo lower their stock car off the jacks as the sound of tires tearing around the track fades. The son hops through the window and into the driver's seat as his father gives quick words of encouragement.
Jeron Schmidt, 13, son of Maj. Neil Copenhaver, 20th Air Force deputy director of logistics, accepted the encouragement and headed off for a final test drive before the series of races that followed. Copenhaver encourages Schmidt, as his son follows in his footsteps, or rather, tire tracks, as a stock-car racer.
Maj. Neil Copenhaver, 20th Air Force deputy director of logistics, and his son, Jeron Schmidt, 13, finish their last inspection of Schmidt's stock car June 13, 2015, in Cheyenne, Wyo. This is Schmidt's first year of serious competitive racing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malcolm Mayfield)
Schmidt is the older brother of two little sisters and, until this year, worked in his father's pit crew. Now Schmidt is driving the same stock-car he worked on and Copenhaver used to win the Warrior Class series last year.
Copenhaver said his desire to stay active was the reason for starting this hobby. However, he adds that getting his son involved has made it a great pastime for the two of them.
"It's great," Copenhaver said. "We get to do a lot of stuff together and a lot of times we get to spend the whole day together."
One connection that helped put Copenhaver and his son on the race track was Master Sgt. Christopher Isenberger, Task Force 214 and 20th AF plans and readiness noncommissioned officer in charge and avid racing spectator.
After being stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Copenhaver was interested in finding an outlet for his interest in racing. Isenberger introduced Copenhaver to the racing community giving him the opportunity to rent a car and try out this new hobby.
"We worked together when we both were in the 90th Missile Wing," Isenberger said. "It's awesome that he's passing this on to his son. [Jeron] worked for him, helping him in the pit, working on the car and now he's racing this year."
The father and son team worked together with help from those in the racing community, to get, what is now Schmidt's stock car, up and running.
Copenhaver was a major factor in Schmidt's growing interest in racing, and him moving from pit crew to stock car driver. His son was given an opportunity for his first race last year which sparked this new found hobby, and the beginning of this collaboration between father and son.
Sometime during the normal racing season stock-car racers are able to enter one member of their pit crew into a race; this gave Schmidt the push he needed.
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Malcolm Mayfield
Provided through DVIDS
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