WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (KSL) — When it comes to racing, there aren’t many days off. It seems like most of the hard work is done off the track in garages or outside raceways.
John Waters, of Grantsville, couldn’t tell you how much time he’s spent fixing up cars and getting ready for them to race.
However, he’d also say it’s been worth every single second. Especially the past few years.
“I get very emotional,” he said at Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley during a practice session Wednesday afternoon.
His hard work wasn’t for his glory behind the wheel.
It was for his granddaughter.
“She’s really good and I’m not just saying that,” he said.
His granddaughter is 14-year-old Natalie Waters.
She became the youngest sprint-car driver ever at Rocky Mountain Raceways.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. If I could race every weekend, I would,” said Natalie. “I’ve never felt anything like it where I just have that adrenaline, and wanting to just get around everybody and get it in deep and get right back on the gas.”
That attitude has made her family a little nervous when she takes off and tears around the oval, but they also know it’s as if she was meant to race.
“Ever since I was 6 months old, I would go out to the racecar shop with my grandpa to work on my Uncle Jim’s cars and help him work on them,” she said.
She’s been successful racing midget-style cars. She has even won a few races.
“I just want that trophy so bad,” said Natalie.
It’s also why she began trying tougher sprint-style cars where the competition is mostly older men.
“Most of the time they’ll come up and say, ‘hey nice job’ and pat my grandpa, and he’s like ‘oh she’s the driver.’ Then they’ll walk over and say, ‘oh, you drive the little one?’ and I’m like, ‘no this is my sprint car.’ Then they’re like, ‘oh geez, good job!’ and they’ll give me high fives,” she said with a laugh.
Natalie, who goes by the nickname Natattack, gained a lot of respect after crashing in Las Vegas recently where her car rolled over after hitting another car.
She wasn’t injured.
“The safety crew come around and she took her helmet off and they said, ‘oh, it’s a girl!’” said her grandfather with a grin and a laugh.
She couldn’t wait to get back on the track.
“Yeah, I mean there’s really nothing like it,” said Natalie.
She has only been on the track in a sprint car a handful of times.
There’s no doubt she is good and knows what she’s doing, but she needs practice to get better.
The problem is, Rocky Mountain Raceways is closing.
This season is the last one.
“Yeah, it’s really sad,” said Natalie. “I mean, I grew up here basically. I mean, even during the week to come out and practice.”
Without a local track, that means more traveling for practices and races.
“We’ll race Twin Falls, Meridian, and Pocatello,” said her grandfather. “We’ll race Vegas and then they have another series that races in California.”
Natalie has appreciated all her family support with racing because it’s something she wants to take as far as she can.
“My dream is to go to NASCAR,” she said.