Teen race car driver getting national attention

Teen race car driver getting national attention
Ben Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Ben Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Joe Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Joe Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Lori Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Lori Rhodes (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Wednesday will be a big day for a Holy Cross senior as a network crew from Fox Sports 1 follows him around.

The attention will be focused around Ben Rhodes - one of the most talented young race car drivers in the country who's going for his 6th win this weekend.

While he's still a year shy of being eligible for a NASCAR Nationwide Race, Ben is a goal setter and that's probably not far away.

With speed and skill under his belt, the 17-year-old Louisville NASCAR K and N pro series driver is already living the dream.

People were lined up in May at the Kentucky Speedway to get the high school student's autograph.

So far in 2014, Ben has had five total wins - four of which were in a row - and he's up for Rookie of the Year with the odds in his favor in the point standings. He's 75 points ahead of competitors 15 years and older and the majority of those drivers are in their 20s.

But the teen admits his racing career didn't start out so exciting.

"My parents bought a Go Kart and it kind of sat in the garage for a while," he said.

After collecting dust, Rhodes' older brother Chris challenged him at age 7 to put it on the track.

"I got into those go karts and I was horrible," Ben said. "I got ran over and I got lapped and I wanted to quit, but I was too scared to tell my dad at the time."

His father, Joe Rhodes, said, "Actually when he wrecked, he basically came off the track saying he didn't want to race no more, but with a little persuading from father and mother he went back on the track."

Rhodes' brother and his sister Alexis, who both also raced for a while, turned in their helmets. But Ben knew racing was in his blood. He eventually moved up to legend racing and started setting records.

Disciplined in everything he does, he spent the past two summers in North Carolina working and learning all day in the shop and really learning about the car.

Off the track, he's earning straight A's thanks to life lessons from his parents.

His mother, Lori Rhodes, said, "We told him if you're going to do this, school comes first and you've got to keep up with that and he has."

As dangerous as the sport can be, Ben says racing has taught him a lot about safety. Unfortunately, he says what happened in the deadly Tony Stewart accident is a lesson about what not to do.

Ben said of the vehicles involved, "The tires on them are huge and the cars are a lot bigger than they look and when they come by you at 50 mile per hour like it was, it's not a very good idea to be walking out onto the track like that."

No matter how safe he thinks he is, Rhode's parents say they have never or will ever enjoy a race until it's over.

"For us, it's just a huge relief no matter where he finishes, it's just a relief," Lori Rhodes laughed of being nervous during races. "We're exhausted."

Ben is signed right now with NASCAR Team Turner Scott Motorsports and we expect to see him signing plenty of autographs again, when he's back at the Kentucky Speedway September 19 for an ARCA race.

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