Like the back of his handPublished 5:19pm Thursday, March 7, 2013
Bryan Hernandez knows his way around the Chateau racetrack
—This feature originally appeared in Progress 2013. Get a copy at the Austin Daily Herald office, 310 Second St. NE.
Bryan Hernandez is a wealth of knowledge on auto racing at Chateau Raceway in Lansing, Minn.
The Blooming Prairie resident grew up just three miles away from the track and always watched the races on Friday nights when he was a child. By the time he turned 22, Hernandez was competing in the Bomber Class, which is the equivalent of today’s Pure Stock Class, and he instantly developed a love for the bright lights and high speeds.
Since picking up the sport, Hernandez has raced for 30 seasons and won Midwest Modified titles in 2002, 2004 and 2009.
Hernandez has always been successful, but it’s getting harder for him to get to the track on a regular basis because he works construction 10- to 16-hour days all week.
“You need dedication,” Hernandez said. “The last couple of years, I haven’t gotten to run as much. To be up front all of the time, you’ve got to be on the track all of the time and not miss any races. You’ve got to work on it pretty much every night.”
Hernandez is also finding racing to be much more expensive over the years, and it can be physically draining for someone who works hard all week.
“At one time it was pretty affordable, now you really have to have sponsors no matter what class you’re in,” he said.
“The older I get, the less energy I have. My family and a couple of friends help. They get the car out there and I just show up to the track.”
Even after 30 years on the track, Hernandez still gets amped up for a Friday night at Chateau. Races became especially exciting for him when his 28-year-old son, Jesse Hernandez, joined the Midwest Modifieds last summer.
The elder Hernandez enjoys winning, but he said he learned over the years not to get too upset after coming up short.
“The only time I get down on myself is if I crash or I do something stupid,” he said. “Years ago I used to get mad about losing, but it’s just a hobby. You’re not going to be a millionaire off it, and you’re not going to NASCAR off it. It’s just a hobby, and you try to do the best you can at it.”
While he has been in a few wrecks, Hernandez has never experienced anything worse than a little soreness.
There is a sense of camaraderie on the track, and the only thing that can cause hard feelings is when a driver gets a little too close. But it’s nothing they can’t shake off.
“You’ll have a little conflict here and there, but most of the guys I’ve raced with for years, and we’ve all moved up together,” Hernandez said. “We all get along pretty decent.”
Hernandez hit Chateau Raceway just 16 times last season. He used to race about 40 or 50 times a summer. He’s clearly slowing down, but he’s not done just yet.
“I’ll do it as long as I keep my sponsors, and I feel like I still have a little drive for it. I’m taking it one year at a time,” he said.
Chateau Raceway features a third-mile dirt track and it holds races every Friday night at 7 p.m. from April to October.
Hernandez has raced at Chateau Raceway for 30 years and has won three titles in Midwest Modifieds.
Town: Blooming Prairie.
Fun fact: His son, Jesse, also races.