Russell Ghent’s First Ride

Tom Ghent was beside himself, but that was nothing compared to what his son, Russell Ghent, was feeling. The elder Ghent had been involved in motorsports for a long while, and the former drag racer gave up the favored pastime in the 1990s when his children were small, but he spent much of his career at Roush Yates working with their racing program and as an engine builder. For young Russell, though, racing had been almost a novel concept. Earlier this year at South Georgia Motorsports Park, it was time for the 19-year-old to step into his own.

Tom Ghent stands at the door of the Super Stock Camaro about to be piloted down the dragstrip by his son, Russell Ghent, at South Georgia Motorsports Park

“The reward will be seeing his face after this run,” said Tom, ahead of his son’s first journey down the quarter-mile during testing before the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown.

Russell, smiling just as big as his dad, said, “My father and I have had dreams of doing this for quite a while, and now here we are. We’ve been thrashing to get here, up ’til midnight working on it every day and then hitting a traffic jam on the way here, so I haven’t had time to think about it. But now it’s really starting to set in.”

Russell Ghent, right, and fellow competitor Joel Warren look over the engine compartment of his Super Stock Camaro before his first pass.

The Ghent family purchased the 1995 SS/JA Camaro from BigStuff 3 brainiac John Meaney and spent the better part of a year planning its debut with Russell at the wheel. They thoroughly went through the car and made it their own, and then they went out for their first, um, test.

No, it was not at a dragstrip. Russell’s first burnouts, dry hops, and launches were in the driveway at their family home in Mooresville, North Carolina.

“That’s the only testing we’ve done with the car,” he said. “My mom is very supportive, thankfully, and didn’t get mad at us for ruining her driveway.”

Russell Ghent before his first official pass in Georgia

Although Russell admitted he didn’t really know what to expect for that first pass at SGMP, he was confident. He and his father had already spent a significant amount of time working on and getting to know their Super Stocker. If a mechanical challenge were to occur, they had the tools to fix it, along with, he said through a somewhat shy grin, “a little bit of knowledge.”

Russell’s first-ever pass down the dragstrip netted a respectable 10.323-second timeslip. See the video below, courtesy of dad Tom, for the newest Super Stock racer’s reaction.

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