By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
The name "Campbell" is synonymous with stock car racing in the Valley, so there was little doubt as to where Danville's Adam Campbell would end up.
Drag racing, right?
That's right, the son of chassis builder Tim and nephew of veteran late model driver Steve took a leave of absence, so to speak, from the dirt of the Selinsgrove Speedway to the pavement of Numidia Dragway, and occasionally Beaver Springs Dragway.
After working with the family at the race tracks (Port Royal and Selinsgrove) since he was a youngster, and trying his hand at both go-kart and soap box racing, Adam was ready for a clean break.
"I guess I was just a little too young and hyper," he said of the early racing.
"I was just goofing around with a buddy (who was) drag racing and I kind of got sucked into that," he said.
"I thought 'If I go do that, they won't lecture me," he said with a laugh. "There are family rivalries, we pick but it's all in fun and good sport."
His father built the car, but it was difficult for the Campbells to help him, because of their own commitments to the late model.
But, after racing in a straight line for eight years, the 28-year-old decided to return to the family roots, as a rookie in Selinsgrove's pro stock division this season.
"I like to come and help (Steve and his crew), but it's hard to be up late at night and then want to do (drag racing) on Sunday. And this was more fun, it's what I grew up doing," said Adam as his crew got his car ready for a night of racing at Selinsgrove.
Adam was helping the Campbell racing team, which also has included uncles Bob, Ben, Jim and Mike, since he was very young. Too young.
"I was about 14 for five years, so they could get me in the pits," he said. "Any time we could, we tried to get me down here and it was always fun," he said.
He noted that his grandfather, Robert Campbell, took his dad and brothers to the speedway when they were young, and their fathers did the same.
Steve is the all-time leading feature winner in all divisions at Selinsgrove, with 81, four ahead of the track's all-time late model winner, Jeff Rine, who got his start with help from the Campbells.
Steve is fourth all-time at Selinsgrove with 45 late model wins (two titles) and was the all-time winner in limited late models with 36. He is currently second in the late model points to five-time defending champ Rine.
Adam is eighth in the point standings, but still looking for his first checkered flag in stock cars. His best finish is a second on May 5.
Steve said, "In that class, they don't really race a whole lot, but it looks like he is getting a little bit better."
Adam knew there would be expectations when he crawled behind the wheel of his No. 2 roadrunner (the same number as Steve).
"There are always expectations, but you just have to kind of go with it. I try not to worry about it, try to go night to night," he said.
"I guess I must be crazy. Drag racing was not enough work, so I had to come back to this," he said.
He did it for the fun of it.
"Oh, I love it. If you don't love it, you should not even be doing it, for the time it takes to do it," he said.
Adam is a welder for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which might sometimes come in handy as he has been involved in several racing accidents, requiring lots of body work.
"It wouldn't be as much work if I didn't smash myself up every week," he said, but he added that they will not take shortcuts when getting a car ready for the track because "It will always come back to bite you in the long run. You are better off to double-check it and be safe," he said.
He said his uncle has been a help, as has the entire family and sponsor Jeff Kurtz, owner of Jeff's Recycling Center and Body Shop, of Paxinos.
"If it wasn't for those guys, I wouldn't be able to be here," Adam said. His dad builds the chassis and Steve does the engines.
And both help with their knowledge of the sport.
"I couldn't imagine starting out not knowing a little bit, but, even with helping them, it's still a big learning curve for me," he said. "Even a slow car like this, everything goes a little bit quicker."
He said watching the races over the years helped him as well, such as learning to use hand signals.
"It is easier to sit in the stands or on the tops of trailers and ridicule. Believe me. I've done it for enough years, picking on Steve," he said.
He said he tries to be careful on the track. "If somebody puts you in a pinch, I'm going to try to be the nicer guy out of it, but sometimes that just makes you get wrecked quicker."
When he started, he said, "I just picked a groove and tried to stick to it, but sometimes it doesn't work that way."
He has no definite long-range plans. "I will just take it year by year -- at this point, week by week -- depending if I have a car," he said with a laugh.
His first crash did not discourage him, but, he said, "I just thought 'man, it's going to be a long week.' But, if you don't like to get wrecked, you shouldn't be trying to do it."