'Three generations involved in racing'

With a hearty laugh and affectionate accusation, Carleen Kline points her finger at her husband Robert and claims, "It's all his fault. He started it."

Robert Kline is the reason his sons, son-in-law and several grandchildren are involved in racing. It has truly become a family activity.

Robert, 54, began racing about 40 years ago. He is a former champion at Saugus Speedway in Santa Clarita, Calif., and it is at his home in Carson City his grandchildren are developing their racing skills in their Outlaw Karts.

Shelby and Caleb Price, ages nine and six respectively, along with cousins Hunter Hensley, six, and Brittney Kline, nine, are getting a relatively early start in the racing world.

"A family friend offered a cart to us for the kids to try," said Tom Price. "They liked it so we decided to buy it."

Tom, 39, was 1986 Rookie of the Year and 1987 track champion at the former Silver State Raceway (now Champion Speedway), both in the late model (then sportsman) division. He also ran the NASCAR Southwest Tour from 1988-1992.

Young Caleb drives the No. 83, Shelby is in the No. 25, and Hunter and Brittney share the No. 7.

"You know you're getting old when your son-in-law races, then your sons, then your grandkids," said Robert Kline.

A few weeks ago, the family cleared brush and "junk" from the back yard, then made a perimeter of 84 hay bales. The track is hosed down before practice, to keep dust at a minimum and provide better grip for the cars in the turns.

"It was definitely a family effort," said Rhonda Price, Kline's step-daughter.

As Brittney, Shelby and Caleb get strapped into their cars and put on their helmets, Tom grabs the racing flags and gets them lined up for a practice run. Now is when the young drivers also learn flag meanings and hand signals.

"Driving in the backyard helps a lot," said Shelby, who aspires to win her first race this year, but knows it may not happen until next season.

"I like the cars that Amy (Barnes) drives (sprint) and Dave Sciarroni (sportsman)."

Shelby's car has a similar paint scheme as Sciarroni's, red and white striped with stars on a blue background. Sciarroni also helped paint it.

"I was a little scared the first time (driving the car) and a little nervous," said Brittney. "If I get a new motor, the car may be a little faster. I like it. It's fun."

Brittney is the step-daughter of 28-year-old Shane Kline, Robert's son. Shane was 1995 Rookie of the Year in the Maverick division, 1996 Maverick champion and 1997 Legends champion at Silver State Raceway.

"These guys have started at a much younger age than any of us did," said Shane. "I'm excited about them racing. It slowed my racing down a bit, but if they can benefit from it, I'm all for it. And I wouldn't mind seeing them stay dedicated enough to go professional."

Shane said one thing he's learning as a teacher to his children is patience. "I've learned a lot of patience from Tom and Robert, too."

"The problem is trying to keep up with the kids," Tom said chuckling.

"But as long as they're having fun, I'm behind them. If it's their inspiration to drive a race car, I'm behind them. What better driver's ed can you get?"

"Tom is also teaching them to drive high and low on the track instead of just letting them go. We're hoping they'll have a better respect for driving when they're older," said Rhonda.

"Yeah, we hope," added Tom.

"I just think of the trophy," said Caleb. "I want to get a trophy and do donuts on the track. I want to win."

"When I see the green flag, I'm gonna press on the pedal and pass Shelby and Caleb," said Hunter, who wants to race big cars when he's older.

"It's all fun," said Robert. "Or I wouldn't do it. I've got all the stuff here, garage, practice track, and it's fun watching them do it.

"Between Shane, Tom and myself and all the experience we have, we can teach them the fun things about racing. I do see some talent developing, too. That can take them somewhere, if they stick with it."

Robert Kline says he's done it all. From go karts to stock cars and everything else on the sidelines. He also helps other race teams with set-ups.

"I like to stay tuned with what's going on in the racing world," he says smiling, then casually walks back to the garage to help another late model driver with his car.

"Did I ever think it would go this far, 30 years later?," asked Carleen. "No."

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