Lucky 13 racing has a memorable seasonSep 23, 2021 11:38AM ● By Greg James
Chaz Groat and his racing family after his first main event win at Rocky Mountain Raceway. He passed away 10 months ago, but his family is determined to not let his memory fade. (Photo courtesy of CRDesign)
By Greg James | [email protected]
A tragedy beyond belief for a West Valley family has made an impact on many racing families.
Chuck and Julie Groat faced the death of their 17-year-old son Chaz in an accident New Year’s Eve. He was a well-known and beloved member of the midget racing community.
After his death the Groats decided to continue racing to honor Chaz and his life. They asked West Valley’s Devin Westover to drive his car. On Sept. 11, Westover won the season midget championship at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho.
“The feeling as we crossed the finish line in first place was complete bliss,” Westover said. “I was instantly in tears of joy. We had been so close all year.”
The Groats emphasized that this season was for fun and win or lose it did not matter.
“Chuck puts together the finest race cars. He has a knowledge and passion for doing it that goes above and beyond. He always has the itch of what we need to change. It is inspiring to see him out there working on the cars,” Westover said.
In the season championship, Ashlyn Powell finished second, River Merrill third, and Cheyenne Merrill fourth.
The Groats race team, Lucky 13, has spearheaded the first Chaz Groat Memorial race to be held in Meridian, Idaho Sept. 24-25. They have raised nearly $15,000 in prize money. They expect over 20 cars from around the country to participate.
Chuck has built a new car for USAC’s winningest female driver Jessica Bean to drive at the memorial event. The 31-year-old driver from Farmland, Indiana races with the USAC midgets all across the eastern United States. She recently won her 21st main event, the most amongst USAC female drivers.
She started racing quarter midgets and was inducted into the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame in 2010.
She represents a host of drivers that want to pay tribute to Chaz.
“At the memorial race there will be special awards and bonuses. The leader of lap 13 will be special,” Westover said.
In 2017 Chaz won the Rocky Mountain Raceway midget championship and rookie of the year award. He finished second in points in 2019 at Magic Valley Speedway. After his passing in January it became evident to the Groats he had influenced many people.
“Chuck and Julie would constantly tell us of someone that had stopped by the house and let them know how much they missed Chaz. They took complete strangers into their house and would just spend time with them. They do that with everything. They go to softball games, dance competitions and even went to the track where Chaz started to help out. That is what kind of people they are,” Westover said.
The Groats have been instrumental in building the midget racing class’s popularity.
“They go out to eat with and make sure everyone in the racing class has what they need to get their car on the track,” Westover said.
Lucky 13 racing has plans to continue to build cars for next season. Westover says he will drive as often as he can.
“We would like to travel to California and Colorado next year. We want this class to get bigger and bigger,” Westover said.