Father and son auto racing memories

Dan Meservey, Sr. and Dan Meservey, Jr. Image courtesy: Matt Wiernasz

THOMPSON, Conn. (WWLP) – Some fathers and sons play baseball together. Others go fishing. And a few are racers.

For a long time I’ve told Dan Meservey that he’s the father of Mini Modified/Pro 4 Modified racing in our region. Dan is the father of two sons, Dan Jr. and Doug. All have raced throughout New England and beyond. For 10 years the three of them raced together in the Pro 4’s. One night recently at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, 22News talked with Dan and Dan Jr. about some of their father and son racing days.

Dan Meservey, Jr. (45) on the track at Thompson. Image courtesy: Matt Wiernasz
Dan Meservey, Jr. (45) on the track at Thompson. Image courtesy: Matt Wiernasz

Fathers, with varying degrees of success, try to give advice, share their mistakes, and pass on numerous life lessons to their children. This racing family from Cape Cod’s Chatham learned from each other. Dan Jr. remembers learning about life as he learned about racing, “Just having fun, meeting people, going places, and enjoying it. When I was a young kid we were traveling out to Winchester, Indiana, out to Canada, meeting a lot of great people, and just taking in every thing that you see and learn, and having fun doing it.”

As time went on the racing dad learned from the racing son. Dan told 22News, “Danny’s the finisher. So you learn patience. And he’s a good set-up guy, he knows how to set cars up pretty good. He knows all the geometry and stuff. I never was good at that so I learned some of that from him.”

Parents can put pressure on their children in anything from school to sports to music to dance. Dan Jr. explained, “We were disappointed when we didn’t do well. We always had a good time doing it. Disappointments when something would break or we’d get crashed, but as far as performance and what we did we always knew we put 100% in. So there were no bad times there.”

Dan shared this memory, “When he first started he was 15 and his first race was at Seekonk. Coming out of turn four, someone spun and was sideways. The first thing Danny did has hit the brakes and turned the wheel rather than hit him. When he did that, I knew that he knew what to do in a race car. Patience, endurance, try to drive clean, and hopefully that all worked.”

People who fish can remember the big ones they’ve caught. Racers can’t forget the wrecks they’ve been in.

Dan Jr. didn’t see the night at the Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam when his dad’s mini modified flipped onto its roof and then slid down almost the entire front straightaway. Dan emerged from the car that night, rattled but unhurt. Both have had their share of close calls and heart stopping moments. Dan Jr. told 22News, “At Jennerstown (Pennsylvania), I destroyed a Busch car and actually hurt my back. Then out in Nazareth, Pennsylvania I crashed a Silver Crown Sprint Car, had a stuck throttle, and destroyed the car at about 150 mph straight into the wall. That was probably one of the real bad ones, but there’s been a couple.”

As for Dan, “At Unity (Maine) one night when I got crashed, I thought I was dead. I’ve crashed a lot. I crashed at Waterford (Connecticut) once real hard. That’s why he doesn’t like Waterford too much. I hit the wall real hard there coming down the backstretch.”

Dan Meservey is 72 years old and has seven grandchildren, four of whom raced last year, two are still racing this year. He had this advice to parents starting their children in racing, even if just at the karting level, “You’ve got to remember they’re kids and they need to have fun. I can’t stand it when parents push their kids, ‘You’ve got to go better, you’ve got to go better, you’ve got to do this.’ The kids are only five, six, seven years old, he’s got to go out and have fun first. At our level of racing it’s got to be the fun. If there’s no fun in racing it’s no good.”

Happy Father’s Day!

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