A family’s love affair with racing has led to a Dos Palos youngster entering—and being successful—in the world of drag racing.
Cody Vincent is 11 years old and will be starting sixth grade next month at Bryant Middle School in Dos Palos. According to his mother, Jennifer, he has been racing for three years. The young man turned in one of his best finishes last month at the Top Gun Competition in Fallon, Nevada. He won the Shootout on Friday evening and then followed that up with a finals appearance on Saturday. Cody finished the competition strong on Sunday with another first place finish.
Cody’s father, DJ, explained that his son competes in the NHRA Division 7 of the Junior Dragster League with a 2006 Mike Bos Junior dragster. His racer is 150 inches long, or about half the size of a regular dragster. The engine makes about 40 horsepower on a single cylinder and runs on methanol. The speed of the dragster is determined by age. Cody competes in the 10-12 bracket, so this class runs a 1/8 mile track no faster than 8.9 seconds and averages about 73 mph.
That’s pretty dang fast.
Jennifer said that Cody’s interest in racing comes from his dad and grandfather, Donald.
“DJ and Donald have always been into racing, so naturally Cody started to love it too,” she explained. “DJ follows NASCAR, NHRA drag racing, and Top Fuel Hydro. DJ and Donald worked with the Top Fuel Hydro boat team ‘Whiskey River’ for three years so Cody got to experience racing up close at an early age.”
Cody received even more experience at Eagle Field, the well-known drag strip southwest of Dos Palos.
“Cody grew up going to Eagle Field for the races and that’s where he learned about Junior dragsters,” Jennifer added. “We originally tried to get him to do Sprint car racing but drag racing is in his blood.”
The Division 7 bracket features racers from California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii. Besides competing at Eagle Field and Fallon, the Vincent team has also raced at Lodi, Redding, Sacramento, Sonoma, Bakersfield, Irwindale, Boise, Yakima, Washington, and the junior finals in Las Vegas.
Jennifer said that the Fallon, Nevada event in June was “one for the books.”
The team started on Friday with a ‘test-and-tune’ and ended with a Junior Shootout which was funded by the big car racers that were present.
“Cody won the Shootout and got his first-ever ‘Wally,’” she said.
On Saturday, Cody went all the way to the final round.
“The final got rained out in one of the craziest storms we’ve ever seen,” she said. “The storm came through and dumped over a foot of water on the track in less than an hour. The amazing crew worked through the night and got the track dry by the morning.”
Cody came in second before the final competition took place on Sunday. He ended up beating some fierce competition and won his second “Wally” of the weekend.
His strong showing at Fallon skyrocketed him from a 19th ranking all the way to 9th, which is impressive since he only raced eight out of the 12 races.
Young Cody, a typical youngster, enjoys the camaraderie he has established with his fellow drivers.
“I love the speed, the excitement, and the friends that I get to see at the races,” Cody said. “My favorite part is that I have friends at the track that I can compete against and even win against, but between races, we play in the pits.”
It’s quite a team that supports Cody. Besides mom and dad being at every race, Grandpa Donald is also there whenever possible. DJ is the crew chief and is the only one allowed to tow the racer.
“DJ is the reason the car looks so great and runs like a beast,” said Jennifer. “I’m HR and Marketing. I’m in charge of food, money, computer data, and social media posts. But we get support from other family members too. In fact, at the first Sacramento race this year, Cody forgot his helmet and his Aunt Jennifer drove all the way from Dos Palos to bring it to him.”
As with most racing teams, sponsors are critical to success, and Cody’s team has quite a few, according to his mother.
“We’re nothing without our sponsors,” she said. “The generous support that we have received over the past few years is humbling and beyond appreciated. With their support, we have been able to buy fuel, pay for race entries, make improvements to the car and improvements to the trailer. Without the support of Donald, Bones, Frasier Irrigation, Quality Collision, Midland Tractor, Dave and Sheryl Rosenberger, Franklin and Brandy Azevedo, Steve Miller, Matt and Lisa Perry, Jay Cox, and Aric McCullough, we would not be where we are today. We also have to mention all the amazing work Flint McGinty has done for us and the immense support we received from the community when we did our first fundraiser. We are always looking for more sponsors and plan to do another fundraiser this year.”