PHOENIX, ARIZ. – Two teenage boys hung out for a few hours in Phoenix Thursday afternoon teaching each other about their jobs, but the conversation was far from ordinary. Instead, 19-year-old Trevor Bayne and 15-year-old Michael Flores spent the afternoon racing a Toyota Camry around Phoenix International Raceway then firing shotguns at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility north of Phoenix.
“Man, we had a good time today,” said Bayne whose everyday job is to drive the No. 99 Toyota Camry for Diamond-Waltrip Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series that races at PIR on Friday night.
Flores, one of nine members of the 2010 National Junior Olympic Shotgun team, echoed his new friend’s sentiment when he said he’d never had so much fun in a car.
“It’s a lot different than it looks on television,” said the Sacramento High school sophomore. “There’s a lot that goes into driving a car like that.”
Bayne took Flores around PIR in a pace car showing him the smooth precision it takes to go fast on the mile oval. A little later in the afternoon Flores demonstrated to Bayne the steel nerves and calm demeanor it takes to hit target after target with a shotgun.
“I never realized shooting took so much concentration. Just the smallest little thing will mess you up,” Bayne said.
Standing back watching and listening to the youngsters was Gary Bechtel, majority owner of Bayne’s race team and backer of Flores shooting career.
“I think both of these young men represent what is good about today’s youth,” Bechtel said. “They are among some of the best in their highly competitive fields. That’s remarkable when you consider their ages.”
Bechtel, long active in NASCAR, said he backed Bayne because he saw a tremendous amount of talent with limited chance of success because of the financial challenges facing young drivers in NASCAR.
Bechtel, and his son Blake, along with Michael Waltrip Racing formed Diamond-Waltrip Racing to field cars for Bayne in 2010. Bayne rewarded the support with flashes of brilliance in his 20-race career including a sixth-place finish at Las Vegas last month.
“Trevor is such a delightful person,” Bechtel said. “He’s has such a good disposition and does so well with his fans and sponsors. But when the helmet goes on and the green flag drops he’s a monster racing the car. He’s fearless.”
Flores is just as proficient in his discipline. After starting at the age of 10, the California native is the youngest to ever win his state’s shooting title. Bechtel and his Flores father Michael Sr. met when Flores was chairman of the California Department of Fish and Game Commission.
Bayne said if his father Rocky had steered him toward shooting instead of racing like Flores father did he might not be spending Friday at PIR getting ready for the race.
“I love learning about different things,” Bayne said. “I always want to do well at whatever I do. I think I could be a good shooter if I practiced this a lot. It takes a lot of skill and like racing it sure is a lot of fun, but I think I’m sticking with NASCAR.”