ScoutingMay - June 2003



A FAMILY TOGETHER FEATURE
Hot Rods and Cool Cars

By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes

This Denver-area Scouting family has the inside track on a fast-paced way to have fun together.


Burnout. Breakout. Dial under. Christmas tree. E.T. These words, taken together, probably don't mean a lot to the average person on the street—unless the street is a drag strip and the person is a racing enthusiast like Janna, John, Kyle, or Kaitlyn Tripp of Golden, Colo.

The Tripps are a drag racing family—as well as dedicated Scouters and Scouts within the Denver Area Council. In their free time, Mom Janna; Dad John; Boy Scout Kyle, 12; and Junior Girl Scout Kaitlyn, 9, eat, sleep, work, and play two things—drag racing and Scouting.

Take a typical week this summer: If Janna's not helping teach a Cub Scouting course at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, she will be undoubtedly supporting 12-year-old Kyle's preparations to qualify for the Jr. Drag Racing League's Western Conference Finals—the Western half of the junior nationals. (He's competed the last two years.)

Meanwhile, in addition to running his automotive business and serving as a troop committee member, John will be competing in Division 5's Super Street-category drag races—he came in 5th in the multistate division last season—in his car "Quick Tripp."

And with the recent purchase of a second junior dragster by her family, Kaitlyn will be racing this summer, too—in the 8-to-9-year-old age group for juniors.

The family passion

Each Tripp was drawn to drag racing, the family's passion, in a different way or for different reasons, but the end result has been the same: They love it.

"It has brought our family together in that we╔enjoy a sport that we can all participate in," Janna explained. "Racing has become a bonding event for our family. We have traveled to races in five states and have tried to make learning experiences of them." Specifically, she likes "the winning and watching" of drag racing.

John also enjoys competing. Since the late 1980's, he has won six championships at the nearby Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., and placed in more than 100 races in his division.

He also appreciates the "relaxation of racing"—even though that means relaxing at 135 miles per hour.

When they met, John and Janna were both active racers. After they married and started a family, Janna became John's backup racer and then took a hiatus from the sport. But if she has her 1972 Plymouth 'Cuda (smaller than a Barracuda) ready by summer, the 2003 season could see her return to the track.

Having accompanied their parents to racetracks since they were toddlers, Kyle and Kaitlyn probably knew a muffler from a spark plug by the time each turned 5—although mom and dad have been careful not to force drag racing on them.

"If the kids ever said they didn't want to do it, we would not push them," said Janna.

But so far both Kyle and Kaitlyn remain big fans of the sport. Kyle likes it "because I got to learn how to drive my junior dragster, which is really fun." "I like doing things outside instead of staying indoors watching TV all day," added Kaitlyn, who has the important job of cooling down the Quick Tripp's radiator after races.

Scouting and racing

In the past, the two young Tripps have enjoyed making pinewood derby race cars, including one Kaitlyn made that was a replica of her father's 1965 Plymouth Satellite.

Today, when Kyle isn't racing his junior dragster (with his sister as crew chief), the two can be seen playing with Kyle's collection of hundreds of Hot Wheels toy cars at the track or racing cars at home on the family's big slot car track in the basement.

Kyle and several fellow Scouts from Troop 613 have completed the Auto Mechanics merit badge, with John serving as merit badge counselor.

Janna serves on the council roundtable staff and Wood Badge for the 21st Century faculty. She also volunteers as Gateway District training chairman and assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 613.

Four years ago, Janna combined her enthusiasm for Scouting and drag racing by helping arrange Scout Night at Bandimere Speedway. Now an annual activity, Scout Night is usually held at the speedway's final major nighttime event, the Checker Auto Parts "Jet Car Nationals." Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venturers, and leaders in uniform receive free admission (normally $6 and $22). Scout Night patches can be earned by taking a short quiz at the Tripp's trailer. Last summer, 550 patches were distributed at Scout Night, with approximately 2,500 Scouts and Scouters attending.

The Tripps also participate in Bandimere Speedway's "Race to Read," a six-week program designed to encourage literacy among elementary school-age students. Janna and other racers take their race cars to some of the program's 35 participating schools and speak to classes about the importance of reading.

Perhaps the most rewarding element of the Tripp's family racing is also what Janna describes as her favorite reason for participating: the opportunity to "just spend time with my kids and husband."

If there's a trophy for the togetherness, teamwork, enthusiasm, and joy of a family sharing an activity with passion, the Tripps have already won their biggest race of all.

Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting magazine. In the March-April issue, she wrote about the Cub Scouting Character Connections Program.



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