VINTON — It’s hard to decide which is cooler: Having a dad nicknamed the Chelsea Charger or learning to drive race cars from him while you travel around Iowa together each summer.
This is the would-you-rather 15-year-old Dallon Murty doesn’t have to decide.
The teenager from Chelsea has been racing since he was 3 years old, upgraded to stock cars at 10 and won his first feature at the age of 12.
Those things are possible when you work hard and have excellent instruction.
Dallon’s instructor/teammate is his 42-year-old father Damon Murty, who is affectionately known as The Chelsea Charger.
“Being from Chelsea, the old race announcer at Marshalltown, Denny Grabenbauer, came up with it because I would always start in the fifth or sixth row and charge to the lead,” Damon said. “That’s where it comes from.”
Damon started fifth on Sunday night at Benton County Speedway in the IMCA Stock Car A feature before charging into second. Dallon started in the 10 spot and was right behind his dad before finishing fifth.
“You just try to go where they’re not,” Damon said. “Tonight they were all on the bottom and I had to go to the top. It was all one-lane and everybody was tiptoeing. Unless they mess up you can’t pass them.”
These are notes Dallon makes mentally, using them when needed.
“I like to watch him,” Dallon said. “He’s always trying different things to pass cars and if it works I’ll try to follow him. If he’s trying to clean off the top, I’ll go and help him, it depends on the track and how good we’re working.”
Occasionally, Damon will find himself watching Dallon when that proud-father feeling kicks in.
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“Last weekend (Dallon) started right in front of me and went straight to the lead,” Damon said. “I got held up in traffic and just watching him run second until the end when he took a slider into the lead. I find myself watching him when he’s out in front and then I’m not even paying attention to what I’m doing and I have to regroup and focus on what I’m doing here.
Luckily for Damon, Dallon is mature enough to appreciate what he’s getting from his father.
“It’s fun,” Dallon said. “I’m always worried about who’s in front of me, but I always know he’s back there.”
The two share the No. 99 and have nearly identical stock cars, with essentially reversed paint schemes. That’s also a family thing.
“I use to go the races with my uncle, Dave Murty, and watch him from the grandstands and he raced No. 99,” Damon said.
Season goals for the father-son race team are pretty simple.
“Always 1-2,” Dallon said. “Otherwise just winning some track and Iowa points so we can go to the banquet at the end of the season.”
Sometimes you know what life is all about at 15.