MUHS student is rising speedway racing star

Hunter proved to be a natural, and in 2007, the Bateses began chasing national points, racing in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and many tracks in between.

"I know he's my son, but very early on, I could see that he had a lot of talent," said Mark Bates. "I wanted him to go as far as he could."

Hunter Bates was in contention for a national championship in 2008, but came up short, and when the season ended, he and his father talked about moving from karts to open-wheel cars.

Mark Bates talked to CVRA founder C.J. Richards, a close family friend, to get some advice.

"We talked about putting Hunter in a four-cylinder car, but I thought we were better off putting him in one of these (a crate sportsman)," said Mark Bates. "I've been around racing all my life. I worked for the Stones (Gardner and Todd) and I've crewed for Wayne Ryan and drivers like Mike Ricci, Jack Johnson, C.D. Coville. I knew I could give Hunter a good car if he ran sportsman. I thought if he ran four-cylinders, he might learn some bad habits."

So Hunter Bates, who just barely met the minimum age requirement (14) for admission to the pits at the two CVRA tracks, got into an open-wheel car for the 2009 season, and quickly adapted to the additional power. Although he didn't win any races during his rookie campaign, he progressed to the point where he was a contender late in the season.

Then, to throw a little curveball at the Bates operation, the two CVRA tracks decided to go switch from dirt to asphalt.

"We were going to be on a two-year plan on the dirt," said Mark Bates. "But we decided to make the switch, and I'm really happy about it."

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