Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For St. Petersburg's Hayden Duerson, racing is a family affair

ST. PETERSBURG — At nearly every race he has attended in the past eight years, Hayden Duerson has had a hard time remaining anonymous.

He has been on the radar after racing — and beating — older drivers in his ascent through the ranks.

Now comes his biggest challenge.

Duerson, 18, a senior at Shorecrest Preparatory School, is in his debut season in the open-wheel developmental Star Mazda Championship series. He will race Saturday and Sunday in St. Petersburg.

"I'm not nervous," Duerson said. "I'm excited. I love racing and this is the one I've always wanted to be in."

Thanks to his father, Craig, Duerson has racing in his blood, and he long imagined a route that would bring him closer to the path his father followed.

In 1997, Craig Duerson received a trip to the Skip Barber Driving School as a 10-year anniversary present from his wife, Chris.

He went on to race part-time in the Barber Dodge developmental series, including an event in St. Petersburg in 2003 supporting Champ Car.

Hayden connected with his dad through the sport. Craig, 46, raced. Hayden cheered. They talked cars. They lived cars. But Hayden wanted more. He was itching to race one.

When Hayden was 4, Craig bought his son a battery-operated power wheel car because he thought he would have fun with it. Hayden was a quick learner. He fish-tailed and skidded the plastic tires around the driveway like a pro.

At 6, Hayden had his own go-cart and his family purchased property in Winter Haven so they could race.

After that, it was over.

Hayden was hooked.

He roared around tracks at maximum speed and showed such control that he rarely crashed.

Hayden's reputation as an up-and-coming driver grew at rapid speed.

From 2005-07, Duerson was a member of the Italian Motors carting team. In 2007, he was the Stars of Karting "Rookie of the Year."

But just as his career was taking off, Duerson decided he needed a break. He gave up racing the past year so he could devote time to being co-captain of the football team.

"I wanted to take football seriously," Duerson said.

Once the football season ended in November, he resumed racing. He signed a two-race deal with Juncos Racing to compete in the Star Mazda Championship series.

The move was a risk.

"It's basically a jump from two series up," he said.

Duerson also is racing for the first time on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg street course.

That is where his father has played a role.

This week, Craig and Hayden have ridden bikes around the track.

"I've basically tried to give him advice on what to expect on turns," Craig said.

But the coaching ends there. Craig said he probably won't spend too much time on pit road.

"I'll be too busy in the bathroom," Craig said. "The sport is a great adrenaline rush. But it's nerve-wrecking to watch, especially if your son is out there."

fast facts

Local flavor

Area drivers in the Star Mazda Championship series:

• Nick Andries, Pinellas Park

• Walt Bowlin, Tarpon Springs

• Hayden Duerson, St. Petersburg

For St. Petersburg's Hayden Duerson, racing is a family affair 03/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead

    Sports

    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. Video preview: Rays open tough road trip facing Twins tonight

    Blogs

    After splitting a four-game series against the Angels to wrap up a winning homestand, the Rays tonight open a nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with the first game of the weekend series with the Twins:

  3. For starters: Rays, Archer take on surprising Twins to open road trip

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 4:11: Interesting that Bourjos is not in lineup vs. LHP Santiago and lefty swinger Dickerson is, but Twins LH starter Hector Santiago has allowed a .500 average (13-for-26) to lefties, but .210 (35-for-167) to righties.

    Here is the Rays lineup:

  4. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety

    Bucs

    If someone's house was engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]
  5. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)

    Tranckandfieldpreps

    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.