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Like father, like son

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Three generations of Robertsons win car races

By Leo Wolfson

It’s fair to say that engine oil runs in the Robertson blood.

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Resident and business owner Jerry Robertson remembers helping his father on car racing. Jerry’s son Darren took over the next generation of racing.

"I did it because my father was into it and it's exciting, so I was helping my father when I was a kid," said Jerry Robertson. "He (Darren) loves it and he's been helping me since he was a little kid."

Jerry’s early car racing success at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono through the 1980s and a Colorado Challenge Cup in 1996 paved the way for later domination along the western racing circuits and an appearance at NASCAR’s highest level - the Nextel Cup event, Checker Auto Parts 500, in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005, he said.

After racing for 25 years, winning numerous regional titles, competing in many NASCAR Busch series events (the second highest level of NASCAR racing), and also driving for NASCAR’s first Colorado-based team - Furniture Row, Jerry decided to hang up his helmet around 2006 and focus on providing asphalt track race car maintenance and parts with Darren's help.

In January, Jerry Robertson moved his shop, Robertson Racing, to Fort Lupton after working in Brighton for many years. He now shares a building that he rents to Auto RV Broker, at 1392 Denver Ave.

“My son and I work on local race cars and sold parts and repaired them and did set-ups,” said Jerry Robertson. “I wanted to find a building we could do our little racing thing in locally for my son and I.”

 Jerry Robertson has been around race cars since he was a little boy. Eyes wide, a young Jerry grew up watching his dad, Odie, race at tracks in California. Jerry says watching his father careen around dirt corners at breakneck speeds gave him the simple need for speed.

“He was a championship racer and won a lot of races,” said Jerry Robertson. “Imagine going down the highway about 200 miles per hour on the straight-away and then you’ve got to do a U-turn …”

The third generation of Robertsons hit the track in 2001 when Darren started racing.

Now 31, Darren had a huge breakout year this past year, winning his first season championship at the Colorado National Speedway.

"We've been close so many times it seems like we should've had three or four of them by now. It feels good," said Darren Robertson.

The son’s victory made him the third generation of Robertsons to win a championship, with Odie and Jerry also taking the same crown a few times. Jerry started racing at the Colorado National Speedway at the wee age of 19, but Darren upped the ante, jumping into his racing suit at 15 years old.

"My dad has always raced since I've ever known anything... . Naturally growing you just want to do what your dad does," said Darren Robertson. "Just naturally growing up wanting to race."

At first Darren Robertson said he was was shaky, but thanks to a few years of experience and Jerry’s direction, he soon started whipping around corners at more than100 miles per hour without a moment's hesitation, just like his dad and his grandpa before him.

"When you're new to it, it feels like you're completely out of control," Darren Robertson said. "But once you get more experience, it honestly feels at times like you're going slow."

Darren Robertson is not the only racer that Jerry Robertson mentors. Jerry said he often takes drivers under his wing, including Fort Lupton resident and former driver Andy Bellomy.

“Jerry took me out for about 30 minutes driving around the race track. That was a huge learning experience,” said Bellomy.

Jerry and Darren Robertson like to constantly making adjustments to their race cars and their customer’s vehicles, manufacturing car design into a perfect science, by orchestrating minuscule weight and balance changes.

"The cars are built just cornered left, so they're favored," said Jerry Robertson. "When it goes in the corner it tries to load the right side tires from the centrifugal force. So you counter that by putting a lot of the weight percentage on the left side tires... .It is really, really important to make sure your (car) body is aerodynamically perfect."

Darren Robertson uses a welding torch and mask to twist metal with precise mastery in the shop. His torch emanates a gentle buzz, as he molds aluminum for a Frankenstein-like car missing a front end, with only a square metal frame in its place.The third-generation Robertson is now handling the family baton.

"Darren's lucky he's my only son," Jerry said, joking.