For NASCAR Busch Series car owner Ashton Lewis, Sr., every day is Father's Day. (Concord, N.C. June 10, 2003) - For Father's Day this Sunday, NASCAR Busch Series driver Ashton Lewis Jr. and his brother, crew chief Charlie Lewis, would love...
For NASCAR Busch Series car owner Ashton Lewis, Sr., every day is Father's Day.
(Concord, N.C. June 10, 2003) - For Father's Day this Sunday, NASCAR Busch Series driver Ashton Lewis Jr. and his brother, crew chief Charlie Lewis, would love nothing more than to give their father an early Father's Day gift with a win at Saturday's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Ashton Lewis Sr. owns their car, the Lewis Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series No. 46 Chevrolet Monte Carlo sponsored by Civil Air Patrol. Seeing his son in victory lane would be a personal dream-come-true for this father. "I'm fortunate enough to be able to participate very closely in my sons' lives," he said. "Not many fathers are able to do that. I get to see their growth and participate in their achievements first-hand. As a father, there 's not a whole lot more you can ask for."
The Lewis family entered racing in 1986 when Virginian Elton Sawyer stopped by Lewis' car dealership and asked if Lewis would consider sponsoring his NASCAR Busch Grand National team. Lewis, Sr., who had never even contemplated such a move, turned him down initially, but later sneaked up to Richmond International Raceway to watch Sawyer in action on the three-quarter-mile track. The older Lewis was instantly hooked. The next year he not only sponsored Sawyer's team, but became a co-owner of Sawyer's car.
While Ashton Sr. was focusing much of his time and effort on this new endeavor, Ashton Jr. had caught a racing bug of his own. The teenager first tried his hand with go-carts in 1989. The next year, he progressed to the Skip Barber Midwest Series, scoring two victories in his first season and winning the championship the next year.
Even when he entered Old Dominion University to pursue an engineering degree, Ashton Jr. knew his heart was in racing. He spent most of his free time at local racetracks, and was delighted when an engineering professor assigned him the project to rebuild a late-model car from the ground up. Ashton got his brother Charlie involved in the project, resulting in another car-obsessed member of the family.
Soon Ashton was competing in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series at Langley and Southampton Speedways near their Chesapeake, Virginia home, with Charlie calling the shots as his crew chief. They enjoyed some early success, capturing six wins and five pole positions in 1997.
In September 1997, both brothers went to work at Hendrick Motorsports. Ashton worked as engineer on the No. 24 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon while Charlie spent his time in research and development. Within six months, Ashton was itching to get on the track himself. His father supported the decision and together they founded Lewis Motorsports, entering into part-time NASCAR Busch Series competition in 2000. Before long, Charlie left Hendrick Motorsports and joined the family team as crew chief.
Not all families could work together so closely, but the Lewis men have made it work. "Of course, there are times when we argue and disagree," said Charlie. "But we say what we have to say and that's the end of it. We don't bring it home with us.
"We have had plenty of ups and downs," he added. "It's been a learning process for all of us and there have been plenty of frustrations along the way. But at the end of the day, we sit back and realize that there is nothing else we'd rather be doing."
Ashton Jr. feels lucky to have his father as his car owner. "I don't have a lot of experience in driving for other owners, but I do know that, for me, it's an ideal situation. My dad is dedicated to seeing us do well. He's willing to take that extra step whether it's financial support, parental support, working extra hours, or anything else it takes to get the team where it needs to be. To have that level of commitment and dedication in a car owner - and in a dad -- is something you just can't put a price on."