Racing lifers form fast friendship

Sprint Car driver Sam Hafertepe Jr. and his one-man pit crew, Daryl Turford, are racing lifers who have sacrificed a lot to pursue their childhood dreams.

Hafertepe, a Mesquite Poteet High School grad, spurned an academic scholarship to SMU, while Turford relocated from Stratford, Ontario, and now spends 11 months in Texas or on the road.

"To do this you have to be pretty addicted to it," Turford said. "It's pretty much Sam and I against the world. We're trying to be the people we grew up idolizing and when you actually do it, it's a pretty fulfilling feeling."

The Sunnyvale-based racing team will take part in the American Sprint Car Series debut in the Port-A-Cool U.S. National Dirt Track Championships this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Hafertepe, who has raced in the Modified division at TMS in the past, said they jumped at the chance to take his No. 15 car, a family-owned car sponsored by LoneStar Speedway, to the track.

"This race has been on the calendar for a little bit, and it seemed like a really cool place to go and close to home," Hafertepe said. "I have a lot of fans down here and don't get to race here very much, so when a race like this comes along it's really nice for us to be able to get out there."

Hafertepe, 26, and Turford, 30, met in June 2008 after a race in Canada and started working together within a couple of weeks. Now the two are best friends. Turford says their personalities mesh well.

"I tell people this is actually harder than marriage, because generally a married couple gets time away from each other," Turford said. "It's very hard to keep crew members, because it's hard for people to be around each other that much and still get along."

Hafertepe is coming off a second-place finish behind Sammy Swindell in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, and feels good about his chances this weekend.

"Going into this week I feel really prepared, and we're definitely going to be a contender up front, for sure," Hafertepe said.

Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JohnsonJarret