Sports

Local racer has a need for speed

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NORTH BEND - After countless years Valley resident Jeff Lane still can't control his need for speed.

Filled with a drive to continue to pursue his hobby and lifelong ambition, Lane continues to have the same interest level in both the cars and driving that he's held since about the age of 13 when he took his first run down the drag strip as a passenger in a friend's ride.

Today Lane, now in his early 40s, satisfies that need for speed as a partner in one of the National Hot Road Association's (NHRA) most successful teams, Hancock and Lane Racing.

Although older now and equipped with a driver's license, Lane's passion for driving and car mechanics became apparent in his younger years in Seattle. Lane was infatuated with cars and would constantly hang around the shop housing Jerry Hancock's Super Stock car.

"He was annoying and constantly trying to see what was going on, and it got to the point where we told him, 'Grab a wrench or go away,'" said Hancock, close friend, racing partner and mentor.

Lane, a native of Seattle, became passionate about understanding the fundamentals of the Super Sstock industry before he was old enough to drive.

"Jeff's first time in a race car he was in a wide belt and bell-bottom pants, and illegally rode in a dragster at 125 miles per hour. I think that's what did it for him," Hancock says.

Soon Lane was elbow-deep in tools and rummaging through wrecking yards to pull parts for Hancock's team.

The duo would operate this way for years, traveling to local tracks as Hancock piloted his 1968 Camaro in the NHRA Super Stock category.

In 1985, Lane would receive the chance to cut his teeth on the NHRA asphalt when he jumped behind the wheel of Hancock's car, earning a second-place finish in his inaugural race.

The NHRA is only steps below the professional league and boasts a tough competitive field. NHRA racing is based on the concept of sportsmen racers.

During his career in NHRA, Lane has won more than 30 NHRA Oscar Awards, which commemorate exceptional performance as well as outstanding sportsmanship. Lane epitomizes all of these qualities and has earned a reputation for his down-to-earth nature and passion for the sport.

In his first full competitive season in the NHRA he was named divisional champ. The team has also placed sixth nationally, and last year was only points away from a national championship. Lane has also been named "Sportsman Driver of the Year" in the NHRA division. This has left the team, and more specifically Lane, with a desire to taste national victory.

Lane's expertise among the various levels of racing has left long-term racing professionals in awe.

"It is a rarity to find someone who can build an engine, put the car together, drive 24 hours, win the race and then drive the rig back home," said Hancock.

Despite the many technological changes through the years, Lane has managed to remain one of the leaders in the creation and building of engines. From their Super Stock vehicle to their current prize-winning car, Deep Purple, Lane and Hancock are known for their unprecedented craftsmanship.

"Engine building has turned into a way to offset expenses as well. We have had five to six customers order engines from us," Lane said.

This hobby has become a big factor in Lane's life. He has an incredible shop outside his North Bend home filled with handsome amenities including cable television, a bathroom and an office area, as well as all of the essentials needed to build unsurpassed racing machines.

Lane's family is a necessary and vital part of his success. Wife Diane empathizes with Lane's nature as she competes with horses. Their two children are extremely involved in the motivation and success of the racing endeavors. Lane's parents are also active in their son's life.

"My mom brings sandwiches down to the track and helps with a lot of the book upkeep, and my dad helps drive the rig around to the various races. It is nice to have everyone involved," Lane said.

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