By Ryan Palencer
— For local Hendricks County product Joey Saldana, racing is something that’s genetic.
“My dad moved back (to Indiana) to run the Indy 500 and he was fortunate enough to do it in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s,” Saldana said. “My goal in racing was always to make it to the IRL or whatever series that it was.”
Though Saldana’s goals have been altered due to cost and other roadblocks, he strives to be at the top of his division, which he has been doing for years.
The central Indiana racing culture is something imbedded deeply in Saldana.
“I was born and raised in Brownsburg,” he said. “My family is from Lincoln, Neb. My dad moved here in 1972, when I was born. I’m a Hoosier, born and bred. I’ve lived here my whole life. For sprint car racing, or racing in general, this is a huge area. I was just lucky enough to grow up in Brownsburg and do what I do.”
Though Saldana is already proud of his Brownsburg heritage, he now has another reason, as Brownsburg-based Fatheadz eyewear currently sponsors his 71M Motter Motorsports sprint car in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Series this season.
For Rico Elmore, owner of Fatheadz eyewear, the merger with Saldana is a perfect fit.
“My business is in Brownsburg and I have come to know and admire ‘The Brownsburg Bullet’ Joey Saldana,” Elmore said in a press release. “I met (team owner) Dan Motter at a motorsports show last year and knew Fatheadz had the opportunity to be involved with a professional team and driver who will have the capability of adding star power to our brand.”
But the partnership is more than just monetary and a sticker on the car for Saldana.
“I think it’s pretty neat that Fatheadz eyewear is based out of Brownsburg and they’re supporting our team and myself,” Saldana said. “In racing, there are some guys who race in glasses and I’m one of them that has always raced with glasses. There’s definitely some exposure that you can get. It’s not like I’m just wearing sunglasses. I’m wearing their product all the time when I race.”
Saldana is new with the team this year and they’re still getting used to each other. Despite this lack of familiarity, they’re currently sitting third in points through a handful of races.
“We’re doing good,” Saldana said. “We’re learning and it’s just a process. There are a lot of races left. We just have to keep running the races as we go. I think we have five more races in California before we come back this way and race in Kentucky and Indiana and Evansville in mid-April.”
Saldana, 41, has some high aspirations before his time comes to an end, some of which he is due to achieve.
“I’d like to win the Knoxville Nationals,” Saldana said. “That’s our Daytona 500 or Indy 500. My dad won it in 1970, so it would be kind of cool if I could win that. I’ve run second four times. I’ve been second in points with the Outlaws a couple of times, and I would love to win an Outlaws points championship before I retire. I just want to win as many races as possible.”