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Alex Pacheco: Chasing the dream

Former Saugus High student moved across the country to pursue his racing dreams

Posted: January 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Recent high school graduate and former Saugus High student Alex Pacheco comes from a long line of successful racers. Pacheco spend two years living in North Carolina, where he competed as a Legends racer.

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Like most kids, Alex Pacheco would wake up in the morning, head off to school and return home.
The difference, though, is that for Pacheco, home wasn’t really home.

In fact, home has been over 3,000 miles away from home since the 18-year-old left Saugus High after his junior year and moved to North Carolina in the summer of 2010.

Pacheco is a racer — and that venture led him to move away from his family and friends in Saugus, and move in with his crew chief and fellow racers.

Pacheco races Legends cars, a style of racing that originated in North Carolina and is aimed at opening the automotive sport to a wider demographic.

In Southern California, Legends racing is more of a niche sport, but in its home state, Legends racing is much bigger.
And that’s why Pacheco chose to sacrifice so much — to get ahead in the sport he loves.

“If you have a dream and it’s worth trying for, you’re going to give it all you’ve got,” Alex says. “Go for it, because at the end of the day, it’s what you want to do and the people around you who support you will be there no matter what.”

Some have questioned his parents’ decision to let the then-15 year-old move across the country on his own.

But to this family it was merely a business decision.

The opportunity has put him years ahead of where he would have been had he stayed in Saugus, says his father Tom.

And so far, the decision has paid off.

In North Carolina, Alex has excelled.

As a semi-pro racer for 860 motorsports, he won Winter Nationals in 2011 and finished second in national touring points.

“I would say the national touring points (was my favorite accomplishment) because when you go to the qualifier races, those are all the best guys who show up,” Alex says, “and I won all four that I showed up to.”

But it’s been a long road to that success.

Alex has always loved to be behind the wheel. He raced go karts at the age of 4, and discovered Legends racing 10 years later.

The racing is unique in that it was designed as a less cost prohibitive entry point into the motorsports industry. The cars resemble American automobiles from the 1930’s and ’40s.

But even in a sport that was created for its ease of entry, getting started was far from it.

“My career path has always been racing,” Alex says. “I’ve always wanted to be the next big racer, but for so long out (in California) it was more of a struggle because it’s not as big of a sport ... But once I went out (to North Carolina) I got my name out and people knew who I was.”

That hadn’t necessarily been the case when Alex was traveling long distance throughout the West to race.

“I raced all over California. I raced Willow Springs (International Raceway), California Speedway (in Fontana),” he says. “I raced Las Vegas and Arizona. I’ve been across the West Coast. I never got home schooled, but I missed a lot of school.”

Alex’s big break came when he  was invited to a three-state race in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado, where he would meet the person that would change his life.

“When we went out there, there was this girl, Kenzie Ruston, who was racing and she was running for a national championship at the time,” he says. “We ended up running second to her everyday. Her dad came up to me and said, ‘You’re a fast driver.’ He was impressed with the talent that I had and he offered to pay for me to go out to Nationals in Georgia and we were a  top-10 car everyday out there out of 250 cars.”

Darren Ruston ended up inviting Alex to move out to North Carolina for the summer to race for his company, KMK Trucking.

“It was a Godsend, that’s all I can say,” Tom says. “It only takes in life one person to recognize you and Darren Ruston at KMK Trucking, he saw that in Alex at 15.”

Alex lived and raced for free in North Carolina with his crew chief C.J. D’Addario Jr. and Kenzie in exchange for working at their automotive shop and helping Kenzie during her races.

“(He’s) very determined,” Kenzie says. “He comes from a great family and they support him and him coming out here on his own — it was difficult for him. Our crew chief was really hard on him. He took it a little hard, but he’s handled himself very well. He’s progressed a ton in this last year.”
Alex says he was a little worried about whether his mom would be OK with the big move, but in the end, she remained staunchly supportive.
“I didn’t think my mom would be happy about it at all because I’m her baby boy almost,” Alex says. “But she supports me 110 percent. It’s incredible. I’m around a lot of parents that come by the shop and other racers and their parents aren’t as near supportive as my parents are. It’s incredible to have them.”

His parents made every effort to travel back to North Carolina as often as possible to see their son, but despite the visits, Alex had to get used to living without his family.

“We felt it probably made him a better person doing it on his own,” Tom says. “Completing high school is a big task on your own and he went to school everyday with his traveling — because they did racing in Florida and he’d be gone a week and still maintain all the school work. So we think it made him a better person. This is what real life is, and he succeeded.”
In June, Alex graduated from Jesse C. Carson High School in North Carolina.

Now, he has his eyes set on the future, with hopes of succeeding in Late Model racing.

“That’s very exciting for him,” Kenzie said. “(Finishing second in national points) was a huge step for him coming from where he was a year ago. So the only thing good is to go forward and I know he’ll do it, because he did really good coming out (to North Carolina) for Legends. So hopefully he’ll go far.”

Just how far Alex goes is uncertain. But what no one can doubt, is that he’ll sacrifice whatever it takes to live his dreams.
jstein@the-signal.com

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