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Off to the races

Rush hour traffic is one thing, but who would drive a Toyota Camry 200 miles an hour surrounded by heavy traffic just inches away, knowing that every driver wants you out of his way?

Welcome to the Daytona 500.

Robert Richardson of Pilot Point spent this past Sunday circling the track at Daytona International Speedway in Dayton Beach. Richardson got the invitation to drive in one of the sport’s biggest races on a recent afternoon while he was mowing his pasture.

“I nearly fell out of the seat,” Richardson said. “I got out and just started dancing.”

Richardson lined up at Daytona in last position in BK Racing’s entry.

“It is a blessing,” said Richardson. “This was put together in two weeks. We accomplished this feat with only two weeks to qualify for the Daytona.”

Richardson admits he is drawn to competitive sports that are adrenaline based.

“I played Division I football, but I was a 5 foot, 10 inches, 180-pound quarterback,” said Richardson. “Probably not a shot at quarterback and they wanted to move me to another position, but it was not what I wanted, so I went looking for another competitive sport that was something for an adrenaline junkie, like racing.

“Getting into auto racing was a blessing in disguise,” Richardson added.

Riichardson started at Texas Motor Speedway in a Legends car at 19 years old, backed by his family. He raced for 14 years, nine in NASCAR, and had two previous races at Daytona.

The other side of this race car driver is a boy who grew up on a farm in McKinney.

“My mom and sister used to come to Pilot Point to ride horses when I was young and I always tagged along,” Richardson said. “After they rode, we would head to Clark’s and then out to the lake and I just fell in love with this area.

“This is a hidden jewel in North Texas that most people have never heard of. It is a blessing to live here.”

Richardson’s car blew its engine halfway through the race and he ended up finishing 38th. He sees the potential to race again, but if that never happens, he says the Daytona 500 is a good way to go out.

Richardson says the highlight of his life, however, wasn’t racing at Daytona.

“My wife Katelyn (DeJernett) and I brought our son into the world, and that is the biggest blessing of all,” he said.

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