The professionals and sportsmen weren’t the only drivers to speed down the track at Pacific Raceways in Kent at the 28th annual Northwest Nationals last weekend.
Kaden Bean, 14, and younger sister Jaslyn, 8, of Lake Tapps, were two of six junior drivers invited to attend the three-day event to run exhibition heats.
“It’s fun going down the track really fast,” said Jaslyn, a first-year driver whose fastest pass on the track this season is an 11.92-second elapsed time at 51.8 mph in the 1/8-mile.
The six race cars — including Kaden’s blue dragster and Jaslyn’s matching pink one — were lined up in a row in the pits throughout the weekend to draw in passersby.
“It’s fun for the kids and let’s the parents know about junior racing,” said Kevin Bean, the siblings’ father. “That’s why we have the cars on display, so people can come by and ask questions.”
Beyond informing the public about junior racing, the siblings were in the hub of the professional action, and met favorites, the Force family — John (Funny Car) and daughters Courtney (Funny Car) and Brittany (Top Fuel).
“It’s just kind of cool … not everyone gets to do this,” Kaden said.
Similar to the Force clan, the Bean family makes the sport a family affair. They maintain the cars and strategize together.
“Whenever one of us gets bad lights, we’ll all get together and figure out a better spot on the tree,” Kaden said.
Jasyln could offer some help — she has a trick she uses to get off the line quickly.
“On the first yellow light, I go, ‘Ready, set, go, and then I go,” she said.
In July, the siblings traveled to West Valley City, Utah for the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Western conference finals.
Kaden, who has been racing for five years and has reached a 7.78-second elapsed time at 86.5 mph, made it to the quarterfinals of his age bracket before losing to Joey Leal of Loomis, California.
Kaden beat Loomis off the line, with a reaction time of 0.028 seconds, but Loomis ultimately passed Kaden to finish at 7.905. Kaden finished at 8.157, and said just the trip to the quarterfinals inspired confidence.
“People come from around the world to go race there, and I’m one of the 16 cars left,” he said.
Jaslyn also raced in five rounds during the event.
Both will race at Pacific Raceways this weekend in an attempt to qualify for the NHRA E.T. Finals in Boise, Idaho, Sept. 4-6.
Lauren Smith: 253-358-4160