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Racing a way of life for Nelson Family Team

The Nelson Family Racing Team, from left: Gary James Nelson, Gary Nelson Sr. and Gary Nelson Jr. Pioneer Photo/Dennis Peterson

Racing is a way of life in the summer months for the Nelson Family Racing Team.

Fans at Bemidji Speedway have watched the Nelson family race for many years. First, Gary Nelson Sr., in the familiar blue No. 74 Super Stock, has won many awards and honors at the track.

Now his two sons, Gary Jr. and Gary James, have followed in dad's footsteps.

"Dad always insisted we help in the garage working on the race cars," Gary Jr. said. "Then we would travel with him to various races around the area, making new friends that have lasted a lifetime, and left a deep impression on us."

Gary Jr. began attending races at the age of two and Gary James at the age of six months. "This is the way we grew up, every summer racing with our dad, mom and family," said Gary Jr.

The Nelsons live in Ponemah where they work in the family business, Nelson's Towing and Auto Salvage.

Gary Jr., 29, has been racing a turbine Wissota Super Stock and Midwest Modified for six years. Gary James, 24, races a J-car Wissota Midwest Modified and has been racing for two years. Their mom, Bev Johnson, is always sitting at the top of the grandstand cheering her sons on.

The Nelsons say they try to set a good example for the younger kids, to let them know they can do whatever they set their minds to.

"Racing brings the family and the Obashing community together," said Gary Jr. "People come every Sunday and travel to other tracks to watch us race."

Gary Jr. was named Bemidji track champion in 2006 and 2007 in the Super Stock class and received the Sportsmanship Award in 2004. He also finished fifth at the prestigious Western 100 in Aberdeen, S.D., in 2006 in the Super Stocks.

Gary James has won two features this year at Bemidji Speedway in the Midwest Modified class and was runner-up in the Mid-season Championships at Greenbush Race Park in July.

The Nelsons race at River Cities Speedway, Grand Rapids Speedway, Greenbush Raceway and Red River Co-op Speedway in Winnipeg.

Their crew is their dad, who can be seen riding his familiar bike around the pits visiting with his many friends. The Nelsons are sponsored by Seven Clans Casino in Red Lake, Thief River and Warroad, and Nelson's Towing and Auto Salvage.

The Nelson brothers list as a goal "to put on a good race, and beat some of dad's records."

"We are from the Red Lake Indian Reservation, Obashing community," they say with pride.