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Racing for the thrills

By By Matthew Nascone
Escambia Academy senior Kevin Maher has been racing cars at the Flomaton Speedway for the past two and a half years and he said it is all about one thing, the excitement.
"I love the thrill of the race," he said. "I don't think there is any ride at the fair or Six Flags that will ever come close to the thrill of driving a race car on the track for me."
And Maher has become good at racing around the quarter-mile track at 70 mph in the short time he has been involved with the sport. He has risen from bumper class to street stock and has excelled at every level he competed in.
He has collected more than 25 trophies in the various races and won the season championship in 2005. The season championship is the points race for the Speedway and Maher won three races and placed in the Top 5 in more than 15 races during the season. But he said he would not have been able to do it without his main competition.
"Whenever I would accomplish something my buddy Josh Huss, from Flomaton, would be right there behind me," Maher said. "We are good friends and he was my main competition when I won in 2005."
Maher grew up watching stock car racing and his father, Gary Maher, raced until Kevin was 7 years old.
"My dad used to race when I was younger until I got involved with football and he had to take me around to games," Kevin said. "And we started going back to the track when I was about 15 to see my cousin John Godwin race and I finally talked my dad into buying me a car."
This year Maher has been awarded cash prizes for his points standing in the street stock and bumper categories. He placed seventh in street stock and 11th in bumper.
Now, as many race car drivers know, there is no way to get around the inevitable crash during a race. Maher has a first hand knowledge of what it feels like behind the wheel during a wreck.
"Everything starts going in slow motion and you really don't realize what's going on," he said. "But you have to accept that things are going to happen and realize you are going to crash and get right back in there. I mean I have had my car catch fire, I have been t-boned and I have actually have my throttle fall clean out of the car. It has all happened and I still crawl in there because I love the thrill."
Maher is also in the minority at the Speedway as an 18-year-old. He said most of the racers in his classification are in their late 20s or early 30s. And as the classifications rise to the top, so does the age because with age comes experience in the racing world.
Maher is a senior at Escambia Academy and his family lives in McDavid, Fla. He drives the No. 1 car and he has nailed down four sponsors. Those sponsors are, United Bank, M&S Sales, Wallace Paint and Body and Century Autoparts. He said he is looking for a few more sponsors so he can take his car on the road and compete elsewhere.