NASCAR & Auto Racing

Kannapolis’ Pressley carries on family racing tradition in multiple roles

Motorsports, especially stock car racing, has always been considered a family sport.

One need only look at the number of families that have second and third generations and siblings involved in it to quickly realize the ability to succeed in the high-performance industry must have a genetic connection.

While the last names Allison and Petty have been familiar to NASCAR Sprint Cup fans for decades, it’s the last name “Pressley” that’s probably more recognizable to short-track racing fans.

Bob Pressley of Asheville was the patriarch and one of the toughest short-track competitors in the 1960s and ’70s, going head-to-head on a regular basis with such drivers as NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram and Harry Gant.

Bob’s son Robert Pressley competed in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series from 1994 to 2002 and most recently promoted weekly races in Kingsport, Tenn.

Robert’s brother Charley took the crew chief route, calling the shots on Gant’s Sprint Cup team in 1994.

Now it’s Coleman Pressley’s turn, but Robert’s son is taking a different approach to the sport, demonstrating one doesn’t have to focus on one area of the profession.

The 2010 UARA series champion, Coleman Pressley began the 2014 season as the crew chief for Concord-based Rev Racing’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Mackena Bell.

Now the Kannapolis resident has added to his motorsports agenda racing his late model and spotting for Brad Keselowski’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team when that circuit has a standalone event.

“I figure if I can do everything, it just makes me more profitable,” the 25-year-old Pressley said. “I really enjoy working on the cars. I’ve been fortunate that my dad taught me how to work on cars growing up.”

Until two years ago, Pressley had always focused on being a third-generation driver. Besides the UARA series, he had competed in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series (2009-10), the K&N Pro Series East (2011-13) and the X-1R Pro Cup Series (2013).

“Two years ago, once my sponsor ran out in the K&N car, I came over and did some crew chiefing, some one-off race stuff, kinda got my feet wet,” Pressley said. “I got to thinking, ‘What’s the next best thing to being a driver?’ and to me it’s being a crew chief.

“I really enjoy the setup side, trying new things and understanding how the suspension works. That fascinates me.”

This year, along with his crew chief and spotter duties, Pressley plans to compete in the X-1R Pro Cup Series race April 5 at Hickory Motor Speedway. He also hopes to have his late model ready for Denny Hamlin’s Short Track Showdown, set for April 24 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

“Pretty much any weekend that doesn’t interfere with K&N or trucks, I’m going to find a Pro Cup or late model (event in which to race),” Pressley said.

By serving as a crew chief, driving his own race cars and working as a spotter, Pressley said, he believes everything ties together to make him better at each job.

“I think the driving side keeps me fresh with the feel of the race car and what the race car feels, so that helps me make a call when I’m crew chiefing,” Pressley explained. “When I’m spotting you get to see how some people drive, so that helps you inside your race car because you race different people differently.

“As far as crew chiefing, new ideas that I can learn on the K&N car can translate over to my late model. So it’s a full circle.”

Driving a race car is where Pressley’s passion still lies, but due to today’s finances in the sport, he has accepted that his driving days may be limited.

“I enjoy the crew chiefing stuff,” says Pressley, who still believes he’s young enough to make a mark on the driving side. “I really like the K&N Series because I feel I can help a young, aspiring driver by giving my experiences to them.

“I also think it would be kinda cool to become a championship crew chief.

“I have a wife and a little girl now, so right now I don’t have the desire to be a Cup or Nationwide crew chief and be out there gone from them every week. The K&N and truck schedules are ideal for me. They give me weekends off to where I can go play with my late model. I feel like I am in a win-win-win (situation) no matter which decision I go with.”

Millbridge begins 2014 season

Millbridge Speedway, a dirt kart track in Salisbury, kicked off its 50-event season with the Mini Outlaw Series and the DNQ Karting Series.

Gavan Boschele easily won the beginner box stock feature as Hunter Kohn had to hold off a hard-charging Kennedy Elledge for second. Elledge eventually had to settle for fourth as Nic Goss made a late race charge and passed on the high side. Eli Bodine finished fifth.

Elledge is Kelley Earnhardt-Miller’s daughter, Dale Earnhardt’s granddaughter and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s niece.