ANTIOCH -- Racing is a shared experience that spans multiple generations for Antioch Speedway's Four-Banger 2013 champion Ken Radabaugh. As a matter of fact, Radabaugh competed against his uncle, Fred, at many races over the course of the past year.
Since before Ken Radabaugh was born, the Radabaughs, or "Rad Racing Team," have been racing various cars at local tracks. Even Radabaugh's 7-year-old daughter, Emma Jean, has gotten into the sport this year, first on the track helping where she could and then as their No. 1 cheerleader in the stands.
Originally, Radabaugh, who began racing four-bangers (four-cylinder cars) three years ago, was going to forego racing this year, until his father asked him to test out a car during one of the races. Liking the car, he decided to keep going with it, despite several immediate mechanical issues with the car.
"The first part of the season there were a lot of problems with the car's mechanics, but after a couple of first places, we started doing a lot better," Radabaugh said.
On the day of the final race, Radabaugh sold the four-banger car he had been using for the season and switched cars with the new owner of the car. Even though the car Radabaugh sold came in second in that race, Radabaugh came in third and still wound up taking the points lead for the season.
Radabaugh's fiancé, Shawna Vannucchi, also loves racing cars. In 2012 she ran her own car and ended up third place for the year. This year Vannucchi spent a lot of time on the track with the rest of the family, helping under the hood or just passing tools when needed.
"The family generally has several cars on one track at a time, and everyone just pitches in when needed," Radabaugh said. "Even when we're not on the track, if a car needs work we're off to someone's house."
Radabaugh says at this point he doesn't plan on purchasing a new four-banger to race in 2014. He and Vannucchi are planning a wedding for the beginning of 2015 and car racing can get expensive. He still owns an endurance car he says that he will probably have out on a track sometime next season.
For now though, Radabaugh said that he's really happy he had a chance to race this year.
"It was really fun," he said.
Radabaugh is happy that he sold his four-banger to his fiancé's uncle, who in turn gave the car to his grandson.
"It was amazing for me to see someone else do well in the car I was driving," he said, referring to the young man coming in second at the final race of the season. "This will be another person in the family who will now get in to racing."