Chaun Peterson and those involved in his racing program are having fun again.
The Mina man, who races regularly in Modified at Brown County Speedway, made a switch in divisions early in his racing career and the move ended up taking the joy out of racing.
“I took a dip into Late Model for a few years,” Peterson said. ‘We ran out of talent and it just wasn’t fun anymore, so we came back to the Modified division. It was a little more affordable for what we could do.”
While competing in the Late Model division was a dream for himself, his father and brother, Peterson said it was a challenge in more ways than just financially. Everything was much different than what he was accustomed to in a Modified car.
“We tried it and man, I’ll tell you what, you have to be really smooth and you have to know what you’re doing and we were neither,” he said. “We weren’t having any fun. We didn’t want to go racing.”
So Peterson decided it was time to go back to the Modified division. He found an old beat up car, eventually upgraded to a better vehicle and is back to having fun at the track again.
Peterson and his brother always had an interest in racing. He recalled the days as kids when they took a permanent marker and drew tracks on the basement floor where they raced their Hot Wheels cars.
He eventually decided to take the plunge into the sport, and like so many new area drivers have recounted, received some valuable help from veteran driver Kent Arment of Aberdeen.
“Kent Arment was super gracious,” Peterson said. “He sold me a motor to get going. He helped to show how to even put a car together.”
Since then, Peterson has had many memorable nights of racing, including a dramatic come-from-behind win in a special at State Fair Speedway in Huron.
“That was amazing. We came from quite a ways back,” said Peterson, noting he passed the lead car with one lap remaining. “It was exciting. That was really fun.”
Peterson has also been known to make an impact off the track on race nights as well. He is an accomplished singer and on occasion sings the National Anthem before the green flag drops.
Singing is something that he and his siblings grew up with when their grandma would force them to perform in front of an audience.
“My grandmother, God bless her, she was an amazing woman, but at the time that we were kids, we couldn’t stand it,” Peterson said. “She made us get up on that stage and sing for people. It just kind of felt natural.”
Soon, Peterson found himself singing in the all-state chorus in high school and eventually performing with the South Dakota Symphony at the legendary Christmas on the Prairie concert at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Hoven.
“That was really intense,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t believe it that I was actually standing there with the symphony and just a sea of faces in this gigantic church.”
Peterson and his brother are both still members of the Aberdeen Area Men’s Chorus.
While Peterson continues to sing, he also plans to continue to race, as long as he can afford it and as long as his children enjoy it as well.
“I’ve always told my kids, that the day it’s no longer fun and the day that it comes down to taking food off the table, is the day I’m done,” he said. “As long as I’m having fun and they’re having having a good time, then we’ll figure it out.”
Peterson enjoys the adrenaline rush that racing provides. He equates it to the thrill of racing go-karts at Wylie and why people like it so much.
“It’s definitely something that once you experience it, even if you don’t do well, just being out there on that track going that fast, just right on the edge of control and you’ve got 20 other guys that are doing the same thing,” Peterson said, “you come back and you’re like, ‘Wow, can we do that again? That was so fun.’ “
Fun is the key word for Peterson, who has been racing for 19 seasons.
He will be the first to admit he doesn’t have the fastest car or the best equipment, but there is no denying the fun is back and right now that’s all that really matters.
“We are the lowest budget modified I think on that race track,” Peterson said. “We don’t have that big engine or a fancy car, but man, are we having fun.”
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