If you have been involved in the industry that is drag racing long enough, there are times that you start to wonder “what does the future of drag racing look like?” Well I believe that I saw just that a few weeks ago in St. Louis.
For years I have heard the grumpy old drivers within drag racing complain that the younger generation is spoiled, they don’t have work ethic, they can’t drive, blah blah blah. Yet at the same time, we as an entire community and industry have completely failed to reach the younger generation. We have made no real attempt to get these kids out to the races. No real attempt at teaching them how amazing drag racing is. So, in essence we, the older generation, have completed failed in building and teaching when it comes to drag racing.
I discovered a few weeks ago, once again, that the next generation within drag racing has just as much if not more drive than we ever did. While I get the privilege of seeing and working with younger people like Tyler Crossnoe, Jordan Grunwald, Caleb Cox, Alex Laughlin, Tanner Gray, Haley Hawkins, etc. This time though, it seemed a bit different. There was this kid, this kid that I am friends with on Facebook, and that I had seen race previously. His name is Preston Tanner.
You might ask why this is any different than any other kid that races juniors or anything else. We could start with his amazing parents Melissa and Andy Tanner, or maybe his sister Lexi who also races. It is glaringly obvious to me that Preston’s family is more than supportive of his dreams. So, while we are at it, let’s delve a little more into this future.
First off, for those that didn’t know, Preston took home the win in MX235 at that St. Louis race. This was his first race in the car that was previously built by Team Z Suspension and raced on the east coast in a different trim before the Preston family picked it up. Upon getting the car they added a small block Chevy engine and paired it up with an off the shelf 8-71 blower. Preston wasn’t the fastest in St. Louis, but he and the rest of the family figured out how to get the car to go A to B. That is half the struggle right there.
A win is just a win though, right? Well in some cases you would be right. What if I told you that this young man was skipping his High School Graduation to come and race in St. Louis? He stated that he would rather be racing in St. Louis instead of going to his graduation. Oh, that’s just the start though. Preston graduated from high school with three diplomas, was top ten in his class, and had a GPA of 4.32 on a 4.0 scale. Achievements that would be stellar for any high school kid, let alone one who races as well.
If all those accomplishments don’t impress you though, how about I mention that Preston is also leaving for boot camp as part of his enlistment in the National Guard. Someone with the accolades like Preston has could most certainly go over to college, enjoy his late teens and early 20’s with no cares in the world. Instead, he decided to spend part of that time serving his country. He certainly isn’t skipping over the educational route though too. Next spring Preston will be attending Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
It is pretty obvious that his little sister Lexi is going to be caring the family racing torch as well, as she is still in juniors and can’t wait to start racing a door car. Based on what I saw from the Tanner family, drag racing is in their blood and they are raising two children that love education as much as racing and will be making they imprint on the industry for years to come.
Make sure to keep an eye on Preston and Lexi in the future. I am willing to bet that these two will be ones that we are talking about for years to come.