When Eric Nascimento Jr. climbs behind the wheel of his late model race car tonight at the Stockton 99 Speedway, it will be with a whole lot of people cheering him on.
Currently a senior playing football at East Union, Nascimento Jr. was the 2016 Manteca Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year – the culmination of a lifetime growing up around an organization that has been a big part of his family’s lives for decades.
And between members of the Lancer varsity football squad and kids and staff from the Boys and Girls Club, his cheering section will be packed as they root him on in the SRL Southwest Tour as it makes its first stop in Stockton in several years.
“I love the fact that he’s really excited that he has a lot of people coming to watch him,” Nascimento’s father, Eric Sr. said. “He raced in Madera all of last year, so it’s a big deal for people to be able to come out and see him locally, and see the car after the race.
“It’s a special moment and something that he’s going to take away from this.”
According to Nascimento Sr., who also attended the Boys and Girls Club in his youth, the organization holds a special place in the heart of their entire family, which is why they’ve pledged to donate half of the money they win from racing to help keep the programs that serve the youth in the community going for as long as they can.
While last year’s racing season in Madera wasn’t quite as successful as they would have hoped, they still donated $1,000 to the organization, and plan on continuing their support indefinitely.
While the family-owned business doesn’t rely heavily on outside sponsors, the logo for the Manteca Boys and Girls Club prominently displayed on the hood of his car clearly shows all who will be in attendance who he’s racing for.
“All of my brothers and cousins – we used to go to the Boys and Girls Club when we were kids, and my kids went there,” Nascimento Sr. said. “Eric has gone from playing sports down there to coaching sports down there now.
“And for our family, racing was a lot like the Boys and Girls Club was – we’d spend all week working on the car and then spend the weekend out at race tracks. Just like the Boys and Girls Club, it was something that you could do to keep you out of trouble.”
Gates for the Stockton 99 Speedway – located at 4105 N. Wilson Way – open at 5 p.m. tonight, with racing set to begin at 6 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20 depending on the series and age of the entrant, and family passes for two adults and two juniors range from $40 to $55. For additional information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.stockton99.com or call 209.466.9999.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.