Younger Sorensen following in father's shoes
Dustin Sorensen is making a name for himself quickly.
But the Rochester teenager—and budding dirt-track stock car star—hasn't forgotten the name that paved the way for him.
"I couldn't do any of this without my dad (Mike)," Sorensen, 16, said. "I've watched him and been around him my whole life. He taught me everything I know.
"He still sets up my car for me. I've gone to the track with him and helped in his shop for as long as I can remember."
Now in his third season of driving with the big boys in the USRA Modified division, the son of Deer Creek Speedway's single-season feature wins record holder has come into his own.
Dustin Sorensen finished second in the points standings to multiple-time track champion Jason Cummins. He also won two feature races and finished in the top five in 11 of the 15 USRA Modified features contested this season.
"We have a really good car and good motor," Dustin Sorensen said. "We were really consistent, that was a huge part of it. Jason won more races, but we were consistent."
He enters this weekend's season-ending Featherlite Fall Jamboree at Deer Creek with the momentum of a Modified coming hard out of a corner.
He ran his new MB Customs chassis—his first season with a brand new car, after running his dad's equipment in previous years—to the biggest payday of his young career. Dustin Sorensen won the $4,000 USRA Modified feature on the final night of the USRA Modified Nationals at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wis., on Sept. 9.
"He is a good driver; he doesn't tear up equipment," said Mike Sorensen, who still is tied for the Deer Creek track record for Modified feature wins in a season, with eight. "He does have a great car and good motors, but he doesn't go through equipment. He stays out of trouble."
Like his father, Dustin has learned how to stay out of trouble while running up front.
On the night of his big victory at Mississippi Thunder, he won his heat race, but drew the No. 8 starting spot in the "A" Main. He carefully worked his way up to the front and held some veteran drivers off, including last year's USRA Modified national champion Lucas Schott.
"He drew No. 8, but once he got to the top and hit that first straightaway, you could tell he had it ready," Mike Sorensen said. "This year I really think he has chance to run up front at the Jamboree. You have to have some luck to do that, but I think he can."
Mike Sorensen can trace his son's success back a decade.
Dustin started his racing career in a Slingshot, the roughly-500 pound cars that are built to race on 1/8- to 1/3-mile tracks, such as Button Buck Speedway, the smaller track built inside the main 1/4-mile track at Deer Creek. Dustin Sorensen began racing on Button Buck at age 5.
"A lot of (Dustin's success) comes from his Slingshot racing," Mike Sorensen said. "He learned fast how to keep it straight and stay out of trouble."
Dustin made the jump from a Slingshot to an Out-Pace USRA B-Mod—a car class where many young drivers cut their teeth on the big track at Deer Creek—at age 12, then moved up to an A-Modified two years later, or two years before he could get a driver's license.
The jump to the USRA Modifieds came sooner than his father anticipated.
"I made a deal with him on the last night of the (2014) Jamboree," Mike said, "that if he won in his B-Mod, then he'd get a Modified.
"He won, and he made sure to tell everyone at the track about it (during his victory lane interview) on the frontstretch."