Cody Lane's "ragtag" crew onto Nashville
Cody Lane's "ragtag" crew onto Nashville
TOLEDO, Ohio (March 1, 2017) -- It's one of the best stories that came out of Daytona Speedweeks 2017...a ragtag crew from Pasco County Florida with no experience at big-time stock car racing, especially on a stage as big as Daytona.
When it was all said and done, rookie Cody Lane didn't make the race, but that's not the story. The story revolves around the fact that he got as close as he did given the circumstances. Lane, in the No. 67 Students Survival Dream Academy Dodge, missed the starting grid by a matter of one provisional position. As disappointed as he was, he walked off with an "awesome experience" nonetheless.
"It was an awesome experience," said Lane. "We got to hang with the big boys...we qualified with the best of the best."
That part of the story is cool enough, but it gets even better.
Lane, 21, along with his father Kevin Lane, are experienced short track racers, but every other member on the team had never touched a race car before, let alone one at Daytona. Lane, working with a program called "Students Survival," created his ARCA team from a pool of high school dropouts.
"Students Survival is a program that got started by Jamie Maloney here in Pasco County Florida. He started the program to help kids with studying and tutoring. He hooked up with us and really liked the racing part. A lot of these kids are dropouts who didn't complete high school. Jamie is going to help them get their high school diplomas; in turn, they're going to help us with our racing program. It's a win-win situation.
"Most of these kids had never touched a nut and bolt, a wrench or a race car in their life. It was cool to see their eyes light up...it was a great learning process, not only to show them what it takes to go through tech, but to be part of a team...to help make the team bigger and better, and to show these kids that they do have opportunities to pursue their dreams."
Students Survival, after hooking up with Lane, launched a High School Completion Program and Career School, called "Dream Academy."
"Dream Academy is part of the Career Readiness and High School Completion part. Students Survival helps kids pursue their dreams no matter which direction they go...it could be in a completely different career path outside of racing, but they started Dream Academy for the kids who want to pursue a better future."
If the kids on Lane's crew were new to the racing experience, Lane's been there and done it.
"I started racing when I was 4 in go-karts. We did very well...raced nationally all over the country. Then we decided to move up to the Legends and Bandoleros...competed with the best of the best and beat 'em."
When Lane turned the ripe old age of 11, his family decided it was time to jump up into a V-8 open wheel asphalt modified. Born and raised in Joplin, Missouri, Lane moved with his family all over the country before settling in Florida where he moved his racing program up yet another notch.
"When we moved to Florida, that's when we started racing super late models on asphalt...we still have one. But we wanted that TV exposure so we ran a few ARCA races at Mobile, Winchester and Toledo. Did very well...everywhere we went we qualified in the top-15. We were actually running ARCA to get approved to run a (NASCAR) Truck at Bristol. We had a good truck but our spotter didn't show up in time so we never got to qualify."
And that brings us to Daytona where Lane's team, which arrived late to begin with, was behind the eight-ball from the start. In fact, they didn't get through tech in time to practice Thursday. After meeting all the technical requirements, Lane finally got on track in the nick of time in final practice Friday morning. With very little track time, a completely inexperienced crew and a driver who had never raced at Daytona, they qualified a respectable 35th among the 42 cars that posted time and speed. As it turned out, they missed the show by one position.
And on that note, Lane has reenergized his ARCA program and is planning to take the same "ragtag army" to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville April 8 and then take another run at restrictor plate racing at Talladega Superspeedway May 5.
"We're pretty much working with these kids everywhere. If we go, they go. Every race we run is going to be with them. They loved the experience they got at Daytona. To be a part of a race team, especially with the big guys at Daytona and Talladega is beyond their wildest dreams."
Lane's father Kevin will serve as crew chief for the outfit. Lane comes from a close-knit family and works with them all day prior to working at the race shop most nights.
"My parents have an upholstery shop...they do a lot of boats and other things. I'm working there during the days and at night we're working on race cars."
Lane isn't alone in the race shop. His new crew is there every step of the way.
"These kids are my friends...some of them also work with us at the upholstery shop then go right to the race shop from there. These kids are full hands-on...fully dedicated. It's a lot of fun getting them all together to work on race cars. It's a great experience for them. I see it in their faces every day. They're learning about something most had never even dreamed of. It's an awesome experience for all of us."
To get involved with the Dream Academy Team and for more information, contact DreamAcademy@StudentsSurvival.com.