PAINTED POST, N.Y. — Story and Audio by Race Chaser Online New York Dirt Correspondent Steven Ovens — SDS photo —
In an age where racing has become a sport where the newest technology and money devoted to speed has won more races than it has lost, the fact that racing was meant to be ‘fun’ sometimes gets lost.
When you walk up to the pit area for Kenny Peoples Jr and his family-owned and operated No. 5k, you quickly realize that the ‘fun’ of racing is why this team pulls through the gates of Woodhull Raceway each and every Saturday night. The Painted Post, NY resident has a lengthy career in racing for a relatively ‘young’ guy in the sport and it appears that something has clicked for him as he has progressed as a driver.
Peoples has been known as a fierce and charismatic character in the Woodhull pit area over the years, with more nights of his past showing the fiery side at the forefront. The Modified driver shared with RaceChaserOnline.com that he has developed as a driver who has changed his ways and found a way to always enjoy every moment at the speedway on Saturday nights.
His peers and track management have also recognized this change in Peoples during the 2015 season. He was honored with the Sportsmanship Award earlier this month for his division at Woodhull’s annual year-end awards banquet at Watson Homestead in Painted Post.
Certainly, you can point to the tutelage from his father Kenny Sr. who won upwards of 9 track championships over his illustrious career on ‘the high banks’. Some southern tier diehards will remember that yellow No. 5 pickup truck body and how many wins they piled up with that machine.
Peoples Jr. pointed out to RaceChaserOnline.com that the racing efforts of his daughter has changed his outlook on the sport as well. She found a huge amount of success in the go-kart ranks this season, which brought about an undeniable smile from Peoples’ face during the interview. The once fiery and energetic driver seems to be more relaxed and has found his ‘happy place’ in the sport on many levels.
Don’t fool that for a lack of drive to win races and a championship though, Peoples still has his sights set on winning his first Modified track championship. Peoples Jr. described how much it would mean to put his name in the Woodhull record books alongside drivers like his father and another one of his racing idols, 17-time track champion Billy Van Pelt.
The end of 2015 saw Peoples race more than just Saturday nights in Steuben County. Peoples climbed aboard his cousin Bobby’s GM Crate Sportsman Modified to tackle a few races on the SUNY Canton Grit Racing Series. That was an experience that Peoples couldn’t talk positively enough about and plans to do even more Grit Series traveling in 2016. He even fired a shot across the bow- saying he would beat two-time defending Grit champion Rocky Warner.
Kenny Peoples Jr. may not win 10 races a year, he may not drive for a team with an unlimited operational budget. But he shows up every week to compete, has fun doing it and continues to remind us why we first got involved in the sport of auto racing.
We could all use a lot more of that at our local tracks.
Check out RaceChaserOnline.com’s exclusive interview with Kenny Peoples Jr from the 2015 Woodhull Raceway awards banquet held in early December: