He does his driving on golf and race courses
During the week, Pat Akins is the head golf professional at Stone Ridge Golf Course in White City.
On the weekends, the Eagle Point resident ventures to the Southern Oregon Speedway and gets behind the wheel of his 1977 Mustang 2.
Golf and stock car racing may seem like a rather odd combination. One conjures images of white-collar elitists, the other of rough and tumble men with wrenches in one hand and beers in the other.
— Neither stereotype accurately depicts most golfers or racers, however, and the 48-year-old Akins fits in nicely with both groups.
He never knew much about the gearhead bunch until his daughter, Stacie, began dating pro stock driver Bert Ford three years ago.
Akins began helping out in the pits and then began packing the track ' a procedure that smoothes out the rough edges of the dirt oval prior to the actual races.
Akins enjoyed being on the track so much that he would take an extra lap every chance he got.
There's a joke going around that I hold the record for mudding in, says Akins, the son of former Southern Oregon University football coach Al Akins. One time I was out there for so long that I got black-flagged.
Akins talked Ford into allowing him to race his car on a play day in 2000, and he began racing in earnest the following year, when he bagged rookie-of-the-year honors in the mini stock class and finished second in points.
Akins didn't fare as well last season, but he started off with a bang on April 19 when he won the inaugural race of the super 4 class, a new division that combines the fastest mini stock cars with the super truck class.
Akins, who has been around athletics his entire life, thoroughly enjoys the challenge of racing.
It really takes your mind off your problems, Akins says. For those brief moments out there on the track, you're so focused on passing the guy in front of you and trying not to get hit that you forget everything else.
It's a great escape.
But as much as he relishes the racing itself, Akins enjoys the camaraderie of the sport even more.
Almost everyone out there is willing to help you, he says. If you get into a wreck or need a part, someone from a neighboring pit is always running over and wanting to know how they can help.
That's the part of this sport that impresses me the most.
Akins also got some free advice on opening night when pro stock driver Jim Walker, Jr., and his chief mechanic, Randy Dodd, told him how he could better set up his car.
It made a huge difference during the main event, Akins says.
On the golf course, Akins has been the head professional at Stone Ridge for the past four years.
He's a scratch golfer with a round of 62 and two holes-in-one to his credit, but he's better known for his vast array of trick shots that he's displayed at corporate outings and sponsor-appreciation days on the PGA, LPGA and Nationwide (formerly Buy.com) tours.
Akins can hit multiple-hinged clubs with any kind of head ranging from — to 6 feet in length and off tees ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet in height.
Right-handed or left-handed.
In my younger days, I was always out in the boonies, says Akins, who grew up in Ashland when his father taught and coached at SOU. I found myself in some difficult spots and with some impossible lies. I had to learn how to get back on the golf course.
Akins' golfing antics and feats are pretty remarkable, but he hasn't been able to outdo his wife, Carmen, who once sank five holes-in-one over a six-month period and has seven aces in all.
WHILE THE Southern Oregon Speedway has been rained out each of the past two weeks, the Siskiyou Motor Speedway in Yreka, Calif., ran last Saturday and has been able to hold four of five scheduled events.
It can be raining all around us, but where our track is located, we seem to get spared, says Ellice Cunial, the treasurer of the Yreka Racing Association. Last week was touch-and-go, but we ended up having 55 cars, which is a good night for us.
The Siskiyou Motor Speedway, which operates at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds, doesn't generate nearly the crowds that the Southern Oregon Speedway does. But the Yreka track has been able to survive because most of its workers volunteer their time.
The ones who get paid are the lap-counters, says Cunial, who operates the track with racing association president Michelle Kassen. If we paid everyone, we'd go under.
We have plenty of cars to race but not enough fans to support a regular operation.
The Siskiyou Motor Speedway begins racing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, giving drivers in Yreka and the Rogue Valley the option of racing at both tracks on the same day.
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