SELINSGROVE — Dalton Bachman played football and baseball, but he knew they were not sports for which he would ever become passionate.
“I just kind of didn’t really feel it my blood,” said Dalton, who recently turned 11.
What is in his blood — and not by accident — is racing.
The son of Kyle Bachman, Selinsgrove Speedway’s all-time pro stock feature winner and two-time champion, Dalton knew as he watched from the stands when he was about 4 years old that he wanted to someday follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Yeah, it’s really encouraging seeing him race and seeing him be good. It gave me the courage to do it and have the confidence to do as well as him,” Dalton said last week while waiting for the start of the racing program at Selinsgrove Raceway Park.
Although he recalls being a bit scared when he began racing a go-kart in the Kids Kart class before his fifth birthday in 2013, Dalton quickly found his way — to the tune of eight wins and a championship in his initial season. He won another title in 2017 in the Rookies II caged class for 5-8-year-olds.
“I was kind of slow and I wasn’t really used to it ... and I was a bit scared. I was out of my range,” he recalled of his first foray into racing.
“But now that I’ve been doing it for a couple years now (this is his seventh season) I’ve gotten better and better and grown and I’m here now,” he said.
Indeed, racing his first year in the competitive Rookies II (age 9-12) class, Kyle has waged a season-long battle with Mifflinburg’s Bradley Wagner. Kyle is in second place heading into tonight’s action, 43 points behind Wagner, with two feature wins.
Kyle said that, although his son has only two wins this season, he has been running up front much of the time and has probably one of the fastest karts in a tough division.
“He gets aggressive sometimes and he’ll make it to the front, and he’ll have a loop or a spin with two (laps) to go and it will put him back to last. Then he’ll come back up and get second or third,” Kyle said.
“His average finishes aren’t really showing what he’s doing, but he’s good in this division and there’s a lot of karts in this division,” added Kyle, the speedway’s defending pro stock champion.
Dalton said that racing in traffic was something he had to improve from the start.
“That was a little harder for me starting out. I would usually kind of stay back and I would be scared to pass people and I didn’t really get the courage to want to (pass),” he said.
But, he said, “At some point you have to just do it and if it goes good, you might want to do it again,” he said.
Dalton said a race a few weeks ago was a big moment for him and his confidence.
“I went from last to second and that kind of encouraged me that I can do it and that I can get better at (passing) and better at just racing,” he said.
His dad said Dalton has won at nearly every track at which he has competed, including Lil’ Greenwood in Juniata County and Penns Creek in Snyder County. In a little more than six years, he has 42 wins.
“But we’ll stay here (in Selinsgrove) because my racing conflicts with me taking him anywhere else,” said Kyle.
“He’s always been fast from the get-go, but he has his moments. He’s conservative too, as well. He’s a kid, so I do sometimes have to rattle his cage a little bit,” Kyle added.
“There’s nothing wrong with shaking him up. I was the same way, and the next thing you know he’s out ripping.”
Although stock cars and go-karts are different animals, Dalton said he learned from watching his dad on the big half-mile track.
“I kind of just go fast and try to get up front and do what I can to not spin out and not wreck, and be up there with the other cars,” he said.
Dalton, who will be a sixth grader in the Selinsgrove Area Intermediate School in the fall, was going to play football again this year, but decided instead to focus on racing.
“I do like watching football. My team is the Steelers,” he added.
In the early days of watching his dad race, he said, “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I did like watching him. I’m thinking about getting into an open kart, and I just want to start moving up and get better and better as I go.
“And maybe someday race in his car,” Dalton added.
Kyle, who may have had even more than his 53 career wins had he not taken time out to race sprint cars for four years (he won one feature), said he would like nothing more than turn the car over to Dalton.
When that happens, Kyle said, will depend on his son’s maturity.
Noting that a 12-year-old just won his first late model race in North Carolina, Kyle said that he will not put Dalton into a car if he is not ready. In addition, some tracks, like Selinsgrove, have minimum age restrictions. Selinsgrove’s is 16 years old.
That means Dalton has time to add more wins and championships to his own legacy.