b'His winning ride was a 2015 American Race Cars junior dragster, although hes getting ready to transition to aIts definitely a case of like father, like son.1985 Chevrolet S-10 pickup with a Chevy small-block engine. Samuel has done some test and tune and isMike started racing at eight years old in a Junior looking forward to competing with the adult classes.Eliminator class, years before the Junior Dragster Looking back, his dad is proud of how he kept pluggingdivision began. He started racing big cars at 16. Jared away to win a championship. followed a similar path, getting into Junior Dragsters as soon as he turned eight. He won the Top track There are some guys who have the God-given talent tochampionship at 18 and turned 19 the week of the IHRA do what he does, Jason said. He struggled a bit, butSummit SuperSeries World Finals.he never fell below second in the points. He didnt have a great season with win ratio. He only won one race, but itMike, who finished in the top five of the IHRA Top came at a good time.Dragster point standings three straight seasons in the early 90s, isnt surprised that Jared took to driving race LEADFOOT LEDFORD cars like a duck to water. Jared Ledford, the son of Mid-Michigan Motorplex He picked up on it quickly, but we were at the race track Michigan Racerspromoter Mike Ledford, is one of Samuels longtimeall the time, Mike said. He gathered information and friends. A third-generation racer, won the Top track Carry on Familychampionship in dramatic fashion. watched lots and lots of cars go down the track through the years. He understands whats going on.Tradition He had taken the lead with three weeks to go, but lostMike still races, but after the Mid-Michigan season ends the points lead on the next-to-last day of the season. His father, Jason, tells the story of how Samuel hadOnce his main competitor lost in eliminations, Jaredwhen he goes South to race his Chevrolet S-10 like he did to not only deal with the pressure beyond racing forkept winning rounds to take the track championship. Herecently at IHRA-member track Darlington Dragway. With the Junior Dragster track championship. When he waswrapped up the title in round 4 and went on to double uphim tied up with track duties, he sees the effort which Samuel Peterson and Jared Ledford have deepneeded the most, he showed the maturity by steppingJared puts in to be a successful racer.roots in the sport of drag racing. up and helping out at the family business at US 131by winning the race.Motorsports Park. His father, Mike, feels a sense of pride looking at theIm extremely proud of him because hes done most of The two young drivers recently carried on their familythis without my help, Mike said. He works on it at home traditions, making a name for themselves winningHe went through a lot of adversity, Jason said. Thewinners circle photo for the Labor Day race. It showedwhile Im at the race track. If theres any maintenance International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) trackseason started out normal for us, then in April, there wasthe respect which Jared has from his fellow racers. or trying to figure out what hes supposed to dial, hes championships and earning their way to the 2019an accident and I severely broke my leg. I wasnt able todone that on his own or got help from some friends at IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphisget around for nearly 12 weeks. What that did for youngThat photo had about 50 people in it, Mike said. Thathome. As far as me being there all the time, that doesnt International Raceway. Samuel, he was competing, but he had to help more atwas a bigger deal than any of the other stuff because ithappen with me busy running the race track. To me, it shows how hes a good kid and how they like him. They the track with track prep. He got thrown to the wolvesdont hold anything against him because of his last name.makes it a bigger deal because hes doing all that at the Each of their fathers, who are IHRA-member trackand had to take on a lot of responsibility. track and at home.operators, tell about the pride they feel seeing theseIm proud that he gets along with everyone and people young men race and how they conduct themselves onare so happy to see him do well.He did just that, earning the respect of those who and off the track. race at US 131. On the track, he was dealing with some frustration with his reaction times not where he wanted PETERSON POWERING AHEADthem. Eventually, Samuel and his crew figured out the Samuel cant help, but love the sport. Its been a part ofproblem with his race car.him beyond the first time he came to the race track at two years old. We were fighting things with the car and thought it was Samuel with his driving. He kept saying that he was He is a third-generation racer on his fathers side asleaving on time and hitting the tree, Jason recalled. his dad, uncle and grandfather all raced Pro Mods. HeEveryone was like, Theres no way. One day, it was is a fourth-generation racer on his mothers side. Hislike, Make a change. The American dragsters are a maternal grandfather, Steve Earwood, is a two-time IHRAsuspended car which have a shock in them. We took national promoter of the year in 2001 and 2008 and anthe shock out of the car, put a strut in it and made a inductee into the Don Garlits International Drag Racingsolid-suspension car out of it and it was a night and day Hall of Fame. difference. He was all over the tree the remainder of the 28 season. 29'