HYNDMAN, Pa (WTAJ) — Drake “The Kid” Troutman is as bright of a shining star as they come in dirt track racing. The 16-year-old with over 70 career wins in modified and late models aims to turn pro after he graduates high school.

“I want to stay on the dirt side of it and I’d like to get it to the Lucas Oil Tour or the World Outlaws by the time I’m probably 18 or 19,” Drake said.

Drake is a third generation driver. His grandfather Dave began racing in the 1990’s and his dad D.J. was the 2015 Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway champion. At 16, he now carries his family’s legacy.

“I was at my first race whenever I was a few weeks old,” Drake added. “I’ve grown up around it like I’m pretty sure I’m on this earth to race like that’s what I’m here for.”

“Last year Drake got his first late model win here, we made a list of, I believe it was 14 fathers and sons, including him, his father and grandfather, who’d won a late model feature here,” said Joe Paula, race promoter of Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway.

Drake grew up in the Bedford Fairground Speedways pits. The track is Pennsylvania’s oldest and the Troutman’s home track. Drake raced go-karts as a young kid, and when he turned 11 he began running modifieds, a big step for a pre-teen.

“People were a little bit leery about me starting,” Drake recalled. “I don’t want to say I was great at first, but at least I could hold my own line, you know, to keep pace. I had some really good teachers as far as my dad goes and my pap, you know they raced for many years, and I just felt like it was where I was supposed to be.” 

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In five seasons running modifieds and now super late models, Drake has amassed 73 career wins. In 2021, he won 22 races in eight different states. With his dad and grandfather by his side, Drake has quickly become one of the top young drivers in the country.

But this year, Drake’s career moves forward without one of his inspirations. In August, his dad D.J. died after being hospitalized by COVID. He was 39.

“He was the rock of the race team and not just that, but I mean he was my best friend,” said Drake. “So it’s it’s a major setback, but you got to just look forward to that date you get to see him again. “

“It took time for it to even set in because you weren’t going to see D.J. in a car, or D.J. in the pits or him helping Drake,” added Padula. “It was a sad thing for everyone involved. He won’t be forgotten around here or any of the tracks around the area because he had such a huge footprint.”

Just over a week after his dad’s death, Drake returned to the track winning at the Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex. In an article by Speed Sport, Drake spoke about that night and said his dad wanted them to return to the track quickly. So he did. Drake said racing makes him feel close to his dad.

“I mean every day you walk in here and I know that if it wouldn’t be for him, I want to have you know these two race cars sitting in here and all the motors and stuff,” he said. “You know there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not like, man, I wish he was here.”

Drake entered 2022 looking to run a full late model schedule for the first time in his career. He continues to develop and aims to eventually turn pro, continuing to work on the dream he and his dad set in motion when he was just 11.

“To be 16 and dealing with what all happened is definitely overwhelming, but you know it doesn’t change what we wanted to do. Like I said, we want to make it to the top and it makes me want it that much more just because I know that that’s what we’d be doing if he was here. So I feel like I owed that to him,” he said.