By Gabriel Stovall
SENOIA, Ga. — It’s been several years since Joshua Hicks has been able to call himself a racing series champion at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The 14-year old Senoia native had just turned 10 when he nabbed the first of his two Winter Flurry championships. It was a particularly prosperous time for Joshua Hicks the amateur racer, as he also added a Thursday Thunder title to his mantle around the same time.
It was around that time that the young bandolero car driver and baseball player was falling in love with the sport of racing, even as he was burning the quarter-mile track in both of AMS’s grassroots amateur racing series.
And although Hicks has learned the art of juggling and multitasking between the two sports, he is — on the eve of potentially capturing another Winter Flurry championship Friday — ready to rediscover the joy of hoisting another racing trophy.
“I’m coming into Friday’s race with a 20-point lead in the points standings,” Hicks said. “So I don’t have to push it. I can just kind of sit back a little and enjoy the ride a bit.”
He’s leading his Outlaws division the six-week winter racing series, and he’s just coming off a win at Cochran where he races Legend cars on a dirt track.
The East Coweta Middle School student is also in the midst of a baseball season with the Home Plate Chili Dogs. In fact, Joshua’s dad Scott wouldn’t be surprised if, after racing Friday, he’ll have to make a b-line to the baseball diamond to get his son on the field.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
“Sometimes it can all be a handful,” said Scott Hicks regarding his son’s busy schedule. “Like, there’s been a time where he was in a baseball tournament, and he’d play the first game in the tournament, then we’d jump in the car and be right on time to run hot laps at the track or run a feature race. And then it would be right back to baseball.”
Make no mistake about it. Josh excels fairly well, whether in the driver’s seat or on first or third base. But if he was ever forced to choose between the sports, he says the decision would be relatively simple.
“I really enjoy both sports,” he said. “But I’d probably pick racing over baseball. I like going fast. It’s very competitive, and I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old.”
But he’s been loving it even before then.
Scott Hicks started racing Legend cars at various tracks back in 2002 until about 2004 when his wallet said he’d had enough.
“I did it three years and hung it up because it just got a little too expensive,” he said.
But those three years were more than enough to get his son hooked.
“My dad used to take me out to the tracks and stuff all the time, and I just really began to love it,” the younger Hicks said.
And, as aforementioned, he also got good at it. So good to the point where Dad has a good idea who would win if the two ever decided to square off against each other on the track.
“I’ve always been a race fan, so I think it’s great to see Josh out there and doing it,” Steve Hicks said. “And I have to say that he’s better at it right now than I am. He keeps wanting me to go borrow a legends car to get out on the track and race him.”
Had any luck with that, Joshua?
“No,” he said, chuckling. “But hopefully I’ll get him out with me one day.”
The enthusiasm in Joshua’s voice when he talks about the sport that his dad got him hooked on is a clear indicator of his passion to continue excelling at it.
He excitedly recalls his most memorable moment on the race track. It came, he says, during the second Winter Flurry race of the 2012-13 season.
“I was running forth,” he said, “And the other cars around me, we were all in a first, second, third and fourth train the whole race. But with two laps to go, we had a caution, and at the green flag, the three cars in front were just banging on each other, and I went high and literally passed all three on the high side, going in on the backstretch, and I came in to get the checkered flag.”
It’s moments like this which make Joshua want to go as far as his talent — or his dad’s wallet — can get him.
“It would be kind of one of those surreal moments to see him make it as a NASCAR driver,” Scott Hicks said. “Hopefully he can continue doing well enough to where we can get someone’s attention that can help him out a little bit.”
The help Scott Hicks is referring to is sponsorship. And Joshua already has already exhibited enough promise to secure his first sponsor in Classic Pro Lube of Senoia.
“We’re grateful that they came on board as a sponsor,” he said. “We’ve only gotten one so far this year, but picking that up was a start.”
Joshua Hicks calls drivers like Peter Harvick his NASCAR role models. He said Harvick is whom he tries to pattern himself after the most.
“I like watching Harvick race,” he said. “He doesn’t put his car in bad situations, and he runs for championships and not just the checkered flag.”
Hence Joshua’s strategy for Friday. Since he knows he doesn’t have to come in first place to win the Winter Flurry Outlaws division, he simply wants to stay in the race and keep things simple.
And hope that another championship could serve as the beginning stages for a long professional racing career.
“He loves it. We love it, and it’s happened for others in his position,” Scott Hicks said. “Hopefully it can happen for him, too.”
THE JOSHUA HICKS FILE:
NICKNAME: The Bandit
HOMETOWN: Senoia, Ga.
BIRTHDAY: February 7, 2001
YEARS RACING: Six
YEARS PLAYING BASEBALL: Nine
PARENTS: Scott and Tracy Hicks
CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2010-11, AMS Winter Flurry; 2011 AMS Thursday Thunder; 2011 Georgia State Championship; 2011-12 AMS Winter Flurry.