Sometimes racing brings together special people. And other times special people just happen to race. Meet the Ballard's, a drag racing family full of good people. A longtime racer, family patriarch Mike decided to give his daughters a chance at the family hobby at a young age. Oldest daughter Emma started in a junior dragster and younger sister Arley followed when she became of age to do so.
Ballard family's 1992 Chevy S-10 Blazer
Meet the Ballard family. They are a drag racing family full of good people.
But the amazing thing about the Ballard's isn't the faith that Mike and his wife have in their daughters driving abilities, or even those abilities themselves. Instead, what makes this family special is their dedication to others. It's that dedication to others that made a relationship with K&N such a perfect fit, and that relationship is paying huge dividends for those in need.
"It truly is amazing what we discover just by listening and talking to people," said Ballard, who helps his daughters collect aluminum cans and recycle them. "Before we would donate half the money to those in need or the local food bank, and the other half would go to the racing budget. Now that K&N has increased their involvement with us, we donate one hundred percent of the money."
The Ballard's also volunteer their time to the food bank, helping with the sorting and bagging of food and donating food to help stock the bank. They also keep an ear out for those in need. The family has been known to help shovel snow at elderly people's houses, donate clothes to those in need, and even donate money to those less fortunate.
The family also lends their time and cars to local parades, and last Memorial Day they were able to put a smile on Arley's classmate Noah's face. Noah has Down's Syndrome, but that hasn't kept the youngest Ballard from making a close friend and helping out where she can.
Last year Arley and Emma split time in the family's junior dragster, and Emma made her debut in a full-sized car, or SUV in this case. The family purchased a 1992 Chevy S-10 Blazer and plan on taking it to some Street Eliminator events in Illinois this season.
"Watching Emma learn to drive a big car down the track, and the excitement she had when she learned how fast she went was awesome," Mike said.
Having your two daughters drive cars in excess of 70 mph can be taxing on parents, but the Ballard's handle it well while keeping an eye on safety.
"My wife and I don't really get nervous because we've been around racing for so long, but we do get anxious before the first round," Mike said. "We just hope they remember what to do if something goes wrong."
This year the team will campaign both the junior dragster and the Blazer, which Emma will drive in a high school program that rewards youngsters with scholarships. The team will also attend numerous car shows and will participate in a pair of parades as well, all while trying to help others who are less fortunate.
Mike provided a few laughs when asked about the degree of difficulty in being a family race team.
"There's nothing hard about it, but trying to remember everything the females need before we go to the track can be a challenge," Mike said.
The Ballard's and K&N have forged a strong relationship, and the team see's the benefits of it every day.
"K&N really puts our minds at ease when it comes to protecting the engines, whether it be the one in the race cars or the support vehicles," Mike said. "Any racer can tell you the fewer things they have to worry about the better they can focus on the task at hand, winning races!"
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