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Bear Ridge Speedway News

Like Son, Like Father: Piersons Add To Family Legacy

- Justin St. Louis on 29 Sep 2010

Gene Pierson (#44) ended a 26-year Bear Ridge Speedway championship drought on the same night his son earned his sixth track title. (Alan Ward photo)PHOTO: Gene Pierson (#44) ended a 26-year Bear Ridge Speedway championship drought on the same night his son earned his sixth track title. (Alan Ward photo)

Gene Pierson has been at it a long time. He won his first Bear Ridge Speedway championship in 1984, just a year after his son Adam was born.

But it had been 26 years since that title in the track’s famed Sportsman Coupe division. In that time span, Adam had not only grown up and gone through school, he’d won five track championships of his own.

Finally on Saturday night, the wait ended. Not only did Gene shake a 26 year-old monkey off his back and win his second Coupe championship, Adam clinched his sixth title in the Sportsman Modified class on the same night. Even more special, Gene’s brother Melvin finished second in the Coupe standings.

“After how many years? Adam wasn’t even a year old,” Gene laughs. “I don’t know what the secret was. I guess I’ve matured a lot and probably drive a lot better than I used to. Adam’s actually taught me a lot about trying to be smooth.”

Hang on a second. A man who has been racing the better part of 30 years is learning from a kid? His own kid?

“Well, maybe there’s a few things he’s learned from me,” says Adam. “I guess I could probably say a little bit of finesse. Dad was always known for Adam Pierson at speed at Bear Ridge Speedwaya lot of throttle, but that’s how it was back then. I taught him a couple of things about being smooth, a little finesse on the throttle.”

But the learning has been shared. “Oh, I’ve taught him a lot, too,” said Gene. “I taught him not to be a rough driver.”

Adam began his career as a teenager driving one of Gene’s cars and showed immediate potential -- he had won three titles by age 20 -- but at times he was a little too aggressive for his father’s taste.

“When he first started driving for me, when he drove the Coupe, he went out there and caused a couple [wrecks],” Gene said. “When he came in I said, ‘If that’s the way you want to drive, you might as well forget about racing because you’re not driving my cars that way.’”

“He taught me how to race the right way,” Adam agreed. “When you go out there you don’t go out and wreck people, you don’t purposely take people out. He’s taught me everything I know for racing and I just kind of go from there. I guess I could probably say it’s in the blood. I’ve never been really scared of speed or anything like that. If you’re driving race cars, you can’t really be scared of things. My dad, when he was younger, he was a hell-raiser. I was kind of the same idea, and I guess I just had a knack for it. It’s one of those things I really can’t explain, you just get in a car and you figure out how to go.”

“I think Adam’s a clean driver,” reassured Gene. “You know, I mean, stuff happens, and he’s of age now that he can handle his own stuff on the race track, but as a rule he’s a pretty smooth, pretty clean driver. He’s pretty fair.”

Smooth, clean, fair, and fast. Adam’s No. 15 Pierson Brothers Construction/Jet Service Envelope car won seven features and was on the podium in all but five of his 17 Modified starts in 2010. But like son, like father: Gene won five times including the final event, and had 11 podium finishes in the Coupes. He also finished sixth in Adam’s Modified on July 31 -- the night of his fourth Coupe win -- when his son skipped the race. Making the season that much sweeter, the dual titles mark the first time in Bear Ridge Speedway’s 43-year history that a father and son have been champions in the same season.

“It feels good,” Gene said after the Saturday finale. “Coming down and racing for fun was my goal. If I could win a few races, that would be a plus. It turns out I win the championship, and to top it off, I win tonight. I think I was going to beat Melvin coming into the night anyway, but he didn’t have anything to lose and he ends up second in points. Tonight’s a big night.”

“Yeah, it’s cool,” said Adam. “You know, Dad hasn’t won -- I think I was like a year old or something the last time he got a championship -- and he got in Adam Pierson in victory lane at Bear Ridge Speedwaythe Coupes and won it twenty-something years later. And me, I happened to win in the same year and happened to get the championship.”

But the championships might be the last hurrah for a while. Adam’s Modified was sold to former Fast Four racer Mitch Durkee on Saturday night, and Gene is trying to sell his Coupe. Adam said he’ll likely build a new car for 2011, but according to his father, some changes are coming. Gene was often spotted in the control tower over the summer taking mental notes and chatting with Bear Ridge promoter C.V. “Butch” Elms. He thinks there may be an opportunity to work there in a more official capacity in the future.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll be down here next year if I’m not racing,” Gene said. “Butch has asked me in the past about being a tech man, and I think it’s time we get some good tech down here. Some more calls need to start being made on the track to weed out some of the [drivers] that are the repeat offenders as far as wrecking every week, that’s my opinion.

Gene Pierson at Bear Ridge Speedway.“It’s time for Adam [to take over the race team] probably. I’ve been footing the bill pretty good so it’s time he has to foot some of it. If he chooses to do something I’ll definitely help him out, [but] I’m 49 years old and I like to do other things, too. Racing is definitely my passion, I like racing. I don’t know if I’ll stay away.”

Whatever may come next year for the Pierson family at Bear Ridge, though, not many moments will be able to top the one they had on Saturday night. They know it, too.

“It’s a pretty cool thing,” said Adam. “You know, 2010, I’ll never forget that number.”

1. Gene Pierson (#44) ended a 26-year Bear Ridge Speedway championship drought on the same night his son earned his sixth track title. (Alan Ward photo)
2. Adam Pierson at speed. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)
3. Gene Pierson. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)
4. Adam Pierson in victory lane. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

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