From the moment that his son, Phil Walter II was born, Phil Walter of McClure has been waiting for this day.
"Years ago I said that it would be cool if some day we could race together," the veteran sprint car driver said. "We finally got to do it, whether it was one race or two or five races, we at least got to do it."
The 23-year-old third-generation Phil Walter II made his debut in a 358 sprint car last Saturday night at Selinsgrove.
Racing is something that has been in the Walter family since the 1940s.
Phil's dad, Glenn, and his brothers raced in the late 1940s and 50s at Selinsgrove and Glenn's sister, Twila, is the widow of late model driver Paul Long. His brother Mike Walter also races in the 358 sprint car division.
Phil Walter, 46, didn't spend too much time during the week talking with his son about making his debut until Thursday.
"We met at the shop and we worked on the cars all afternoon on Thursday and I spoke with him before the crew showed up," he said. "I wanted to talk with him about putting out of his mind all of the expectations and focus on doing his thing. If that meant barely going, great. If it meant going fast, that's great too. Whatever was comfortable for him."
Walter II would finish 18th while his dad, known as "Flyin' Phil" finished 20th after losing his brakes with about five laps to go in the regularly scheduled 25-lap feature event.
"I told him that he has as much right to be out there as anybody and to go out and run his deal, finish where you finish and bring the car home in one piece and run every lap," Walter said. "When I pulled into the pits, I ran up to the top of the trailer to watch him. He actually looked really smooth. He got through the corners pretty straight and he got a little faster towards the end.
"This place is intimidating if you have never been on it. You get out there and it's like 'wow', it's a long way from one end to the other," Walter added.
Walter said he can still recall his first night of racing at Selinsgrove like it was yesterday.
"I was a young-and-cocky 19-year-old when I started and I thought 'this is no problem, I can do this,' " he said. "We had won in go-karts and micro-midgets, so this should be no problem.
"So I'm going down the backstretch and I think I am going as fast as humanly possibly and Doug Wolfgang, Randy Wolfe, Van May and Jerry Stone went past me like I was nailed fast to the ground. I thought they pulled the paint off the side of the car. I tell people that was the most humbling experience of my life. So I told Phil that whatever his expectations are, you are going to be shocked. You are going to think you are going fast but they will blow by you like you are tied to a post."
Like his dad, Walter II raced go-karts and a few years ago he did get some practice time in his dad's back-up car at Susquehanna Speedway Park, but Saturday night was the first time in a few years that the younger Walter had been in a race car.
"It felt like everything that I've always dreamed about and everything that I had thought about has finally happened," Phil II said of the moment when he was pushed off for the feature. "My dreams had finally come true."
"I watched my dad and Barry Camp race around here and I knew I wanted a piece of that some day," he added.
What made the night special for father and son was, by mere coincidence, they were lined up next to each other on the track when it came time to be pushed off for the feature.
"It was a real learning experience," Walter II said. "It is not as easy as it looks. It was a lot of fun. I think I gained some respect from the other drivers and that's all I was really trying to do along with learning to drive."
It was that night at Susquehanna that Walter II started to get the itch to get his own sprint car. He spent three years racing in the adult cage divisions for go-karts.
"I last raced two years ago in a micro sprint," Walter II said. "I work for North American Railroad as a contractor and I travel all over the country."
Walter II said that he felt really comfortable in the car for the first time out and the crew did a great job setting up the car. He also noted that getting passed was a mind-blowing experience as it seemed like you are going fast but when you get passed it looks like you are going slower than what you are.
"I have a couple of shows to run the motor from the Horst team and then I have to start searching for sponsorship help to get an engine and continue on," he said.
"It was as exciting as I thought it was going to be," Walter II said. "Back when I was a kid watching dad race, I wasn't really thinking price range. Now my pocket knows how much fun it is too. "Most of the day I was dumbfounded that this was happening. I sat in the shop the other day looking at my car for two hours because I couldn't believe that this was happening."
Phil Walter noted that his son gained six miles an hour from the start of the night to the end and that the car measured up pretty good in the shop, they just have some shock issues to work on.
"The day he was born I said to my dad that I hope we get to race together before I get too old or can't race any more," Phil Walter said.
There was no father more proud of his son on Saturday night than Flyin' Phil Walter.
n Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item. Email comments to email@example.com.