A Need for Speed

By Hill Douglas, Staff Writer

When most little kids are learning to play sports they start with something like soccer or basketball, but not R.J. Reynolds sophomore Slade Parsons. At just four years old, he was already racing go-carts and finding a passion that he still holds on to over 10 years later. Parsons loves to race.screenshot_20161114-144637

“My dad took me to a race one night and I thought it was really cool,” Parsons said, recounting his earliest memories of the sport. “I’ve just wanted to do it ever since.”

Now that he is older, Parsons has moved up from go-carts to racing dirt modified cars in the South Eastern Crate Association (SECA). Parsons races at tracks all over North Carolina and Virginia, but mostly at Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, N.C.

Being an athlete at Reynolds that does not participate in a school sport, his accomplishments have often gone overlooked, but that does not mean they are not worthy of attention. Parsons may be RJR’s best kept secret.

Even at such a young age, Parsons is respected in the racing world. When asked about Parsons, Jason Atkins from SECA only had positive things to say about the already accomplished driver.

“Slade Parsons is an active driver and member of our organization who scored the biggest win of his dirt racing career at the OneDirt.com World Short Track Championship at the Dirt Track in Charlotte,” Atkins stated.

Parsons did indeed win the biggest race of his career on October 22, but he is not satisfied yet and still plans on moving up in the racing world.

“I want to move up to NASCAR in a year or two,” Parsons said.

Parsons has managed to maintain a very humble persona and hold onto other interests as well, even through all his success.

“He is very humble,” Reynolds Guitar teacher Michael Chamis attested. “He is really into music as well.”

Chamis believes Parsons is so passionate about both music and racing because the two endeavors have similarities.

“I guess [racing and music] do go together in a way. It’s sort of a performance, an individual discipline, but yet a team effort kind of thing. In a way there are some parallels,” Chamis explained.

The difference is that Parsons might see music as more of a hobby than racing. He aspires to race professional NASCAR eventually, but there is not a particular driver he admires most or models his racing after. Parsons is doing things his own way.

The young driver knows he could not be where he is today in racing if it wasn’t for two very important and influential people.

“My parents have been the ones who have supported me all the way through,” Parsons says, accrediting his parents as the biggest influences in his racing career.

It is obvious that Parsons is very passionate about racing, but at the root of his passion there is one thing that ultimately keeps him in the sport: his need for speed.

“I just love the speed,” Parsons said.