It may be an off-weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but for Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 34 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports, it is a special one as he pays tribute to his dad for Father’s Day.
“My dad is the reason I am racing,” Buescher said. “He was a hot rod guy growing up, so that’s what I remember is cars in the garage getting taken apart and me helping him.”
“At the end of the day, I’m sure I was slowing him down. But I learned a lot from him and to this day, I still love to work on the stuff in my free time. It is something that me and my dad still enjoy doing.”
“That was the big start for me getting into cars and then racing.”
While Buescher’s love of cars came straight from his father, Chris was the one who ultimately wanted to make those cars go fast.
“Dad had a ‘67 Cobra kit car that he started right about the time I was born,” Buescher said “He finished that car when I was 18 years old. He was pretty hesitant to let me drive that one because knows I’m hard on stuff.”
“One day I decided to take that car out. There in Prosper, Texas where we used to live, you could hear for miles around. The car was extremely loud but I thought I was far enough away from the house where I could lay it down and try to get some speed up.”
“I pulled back in the driveway after my run and he was at the top of the hill with his arms crossed. He was looking at me and he said, ‘So, how fast did you go?’ I told him I didn’t go that fast and he said, ‘Don’t lie to me. I heard you.’ I got busted right there.”
While the love of hot rods still ties father and son together, even to this day, there is also a bit of competitiveness that has emerged between the two.
“Dad’s building a ‘56 Ford Pickup right now,” Buescher said. “I’m building a ‘55 Pickup at the same time so he’s trying to motivate me to get on mine a little bit quicker. He’s keeping me going and pushes me along. But I still might get mine done first.”
Buescher is also grateful to his father for doing a very difficult thing. His mom and dad both agreed to let him go and move to North Carolina when he was just 16 years old to pursue his racing career.
“I know it was hard on both my mom and dad when I moved away,” Buescher said. “But it was a decision we had to think about for a long time and figure out how to make it work out best.”
Buescher actually moved in with David Ragan’s parents and brother Adam in North Carolina. And there he found another father figure in Ken Ragan.
“The Ragans pretty much picked up right where my parents left off,” Buescher said. “They gave me a place to stay and food to eat. I just had to take care of the yard, making sure the grass was mowed.”
“I’d go over to David’s shop and work in the evenings to try to do whatever odds and ends they had there that needed done.”
“The relationship that Ken has with David and Adam was so special. Ken loves racing and seeing David be a part of it, supporting him in any way he can. It was cool to see it because it was very similar to how my dad supported me growing up as well.”
Nowadays, after moving up from the Xfinity Series, where he won several races as well as the championship, Buescher tries to keep up with his dad as much as he can even with his hectic Sprint Cup schedule.
“Dad usually calls me about twice a day,” Buescher said. “I don’t always answer twice a day, which I feel bad about. But we definitely talk after the races and figure out what happened throughout the weekend.”
Those talks are especially important to Buescher as he tries to deal with the ups and downs of being with a smaller team, albeit a Roush Fenway Racing-related team, that has struggled to compete at the front of the pack.
“It’s been a learning curve, which was expected to an extent,” Buescher said of his season to date. “Coming off of last year where we won a handful of races and the championship, I stepped into the Cup side and thought it would be an adjustment and that we’d be running top-ten before you know it.”
“It’s just been hard. There is nothing easy about it. So, we’ve been trying to be patient through the year and make sure we learn as much as possible every race. We also want to learn so that when we come back again, we’ll be ready this year.”
“Those are the things that I talk over with my dad. He keeps me going, even when I have trouble being patient.”
So what does Buescher admire most about his dad?
“He just has a lot of respect for everybody,” Buescher said. “It’s something that I learned growing up, to work hard and respect everybody that you are around.”
“It’s tough to go out there in a competitive environment like we are and try and not lose your cool a lot. But growing up around Dad, I’ve figured out that better things will come back around. It’s just a matter of being patient sometimes and letting it happen.”
While Buescher may not be able to celebrate Father’s Day in person with his dad, especially given his own racing schedule and his parents’ homebuilding business, he will most certainly be in touch, enjoying some Dad time across the miles.
“It’s hard to get together on Father’s Day, even on Mother’s Day,” Buescher said. “Our race schedule is just very difficult.”
“But I certainly will be thinking of him, especially on Father’s Day. And I am so thankful for all that he has done for me and for my racing career.”
“I would not be where I am today without him.”