WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Audio and story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Weatherman Motorsports photo — From small-town cars to big-time opportunites, 15-year-old Clayton Weatherman has seen a lot through his short time behind the wheel of a race car.
Saturday, the young gun will see something brand-new, however, as he embarks on his first-career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start in the Federated Car Care ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway fueled by the Hoosier Lottery.
Weatherman, who has raced go-karts, Bandolero’s and Legends cars in the past and made noise over the years at the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, tested the ARCA car he will drive for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing over the weekend at Salem to learn about the track and get a feel for the recently-resurfaced turns 3 and 4.
“I learned quite a bit at the test, and we got a little bit better as we went on,” Weatherman said on Monday night to Speed77 Radio during Motorsports Madness. “We learned more car control, learned the track more and have a better handle of the car and now we know what the car is gonna do at certain spots of the race track because the track changes so much.”
“It’s a very rough track. If you don’t hit your line just right, you will wash up or you might get a little loose, so you gotta hit your line every lap or otherwise you’re gonna mess it up.”
Weatherman adds though that with the recent repave, the track takes on a completely different look on the (turns) three and four end.
“It’s extremely smooth. (Turns) three and four are probably the smoothest part I’ve ever been on at any track, but then you get back down into 1 and 2 and it’s extremely rough. It’s tough to get a handle on because of how different it really is, but it’s a lot of fun,” Weatherman said of the track. “Definitely tricky, definitely bumpy, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Despite the test, the youngster says that the goal is simple — learn, don’t tear up the equipment, and finish all the laps.
“My first goal is to learn as much as possible. The next goal is to get the best finish we can. Before the test, I didn’t quite know what we had and then we went to test and we were pretty fast,” Weatherman said. “I think we can, if we keep our car together, don’t get any damage, get a top-five finish out of it.”
High expectations from a 15-year-old.
But while Weatherman admits his main focus will be learning everything he can, he does have a secondary goal in mind — beating his older brother Kyle.
The two brothers will compete on the same track, in the same race for the first time in two years on Saturday, and Clayton says that just because Kyle has the benefit of experience, it doesn’t mean he has the upper hand.
“It’s going to be extremely tough because my brother is very good here (at Salem),” Weatherman admits. “He almost had a win here and a fourth and I think it was a 12th. He’s done extremely good here and he’s really fast here.”
“If we keep our car together though, stay up front, stay out of wrecks, I think we’ll have a shot to be able to beat him. But, if not, it’ll be pretty close.”
Listen in to Clayton’s full interview with co-hosts Jacob Seelman and Tom Baker from Monday night’s episode of Motorsports Madness below: