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There are 1,744 miles that separate Dover, Del. and Centennial, Colo. The distance between the two includes a trip through seven states and across the Mississippi River. But still, there exists and interesting connection between these two American cities.
Sitting in the heart of Dover is the largest sporting venue in the mid-Atlantic, Dover International Speedway. And growing up in Centennial is a child named Dover Winston Durham, a youngster that was named after the First State’s NASCAR track.
Coming from a family of racing fanatics, four-year-old Dover Winston’s name was picked by his parents, Ken and April, as a unique tribute to both the Monster Mile and long-time Cup Series sponsor, Winston.
Along with his five-year-old brother, Bristol Phoenix, the two, young Durham boys were born and named to be race fans. Ken said he grew up in a racing family, and after his brother named his daughter Indy, after the Indianapolis 500, it gave him the idea to use racing names for his kids.
“I’m just up to my ears in racing,” Ken said.
Ken and April met in 2005, as Ken was teaching a night class in Denver that April was a student in. The two hit it off and were married soon after. Ken still jokes about the age difference between the two — 28 years to be exact.
“She’s a month older than Erin Crocker and I’m four years older than Ray Evernham. We’re an age gap couple,” he said, noting that even his family’s jokes are racing themed.
Shortly after the Durhams married, they started discussing having kids and found out they’d be having a little boy in 2006. Ken had five kids from a previous marriage, three of which were sons with interesting names of their own — Dallas, Denver and Austin, all American city names, but none with any real racing ties.
So when Ken introduced the idea of a racing-themed name for their soon-to-be-arriving son, April loved the idea.
“My wife jumped on the race bandwagon like crazy,” Ken said. “I introduced her to the sport and she just loved it. When we knew we were going to have a little boy, I introduced the idea of naming him after a racing venue — Bristol. She liked it.”
The Durham’s took it a step further, though, as Ken said they wanted their son to have racing initials as well.
“When we were thinking about this thing, she just loved Benny Parsons and what a good person he was, and we thought we should have racing initials,” he said. “So we did Phoenix as the middle name.”
A year later when the couple found out they’d be having another son, they decided to keep with the trend.
“We thought we had to keep this thing going,” Ken said. “We knew it was going to be a boy, and I’ve always loved Dover. I thought it was a cool name, and to keep with the racing initials theme we wanted a “W” in there for Darrell Waltrip, so we picked Winston as the middle name.”
Ken said Parsons’ and Waltrip’s initials were carefully selected by him and April as good role models in the racing world that their boys could look up to.
“It’s the kind of thing where you don’t know if your boys will grow up to be good race drivers, but you want them to be good people,” he said. “You can point at [Waltrip and Parsons] and say, ‘this is what a good person looks like.’”
Not surprisingly, Bristol and Dover are growing up as huge race fans, Ken said. Over each of their beds hangs a flag from the track they share their names with, and each Sunday the boys sit down in front of the TV to enjoy a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. No race, their father said, holds their attention more than the ones at Dover International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.
But taking things even a step further, Ken said his two sons are taking after their mom and dad, and are already starting to get more involved in the technical side of the sport.
“They’re not just race fans. They’re total gear heads,” he said. “My wife is extremely mechanically inclined and loves understanding more about engines. I rebuilt my first engine when I was 10 years old, and when I was 15 I built my brother’s engines for the open-wheel cars he raced.
“These two are the same way, they’re just gear heads. They love engines, love the noise, monster trucks, everything.”
Though Dover and Bristol might be too young to get behind the wheel and compete yet, Ken said a friendly rivalry is already starting to grow between the two of them.
“They’re starting to talk about who is going to beat who,” he said. “They already race anything they’re on, whether it be bikes, foot, whatever. And the best part is, they do it as very close friends. They’re as tight as anyone can be.”
The Durhams have yet to attend a race at the Monster Mile, but with racing seemingly in the blood of these two young boys, who knows, maybe one day they’ll attend that race with a grown-up Dover Winston pulling into Sunoco Victory Lane in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It would only be fitting for the boy named after the track.