‘My dad taught me how to drive and I love doing it’: Dylan Trent learns more than racing on the track
The feeling of sitting behind the wheel is as much ingrained in the DNA of 11-year-old Dylan Trent as the No. 22 that’s stenciled on the roof of his car — the same number his father drove under.
“My dad taught me how to drive,” said Dylan. “And I love doing it.”
Dylan has been racing since he was 6 years old, and now competes in the youth division of off-road events in a car built by his father Derek and older brother Woody at the family’s shop, Trent Fabrication.
“He really has a natural ability,” said Derek, adding that he and his wife Lisa were both professional rock crawlers. “It makes his mom and I as proud as can be.”
Last season, Dylan raced to first place at the Nor Cal Winter Nationals at the Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area. He was set to compete again this year, but the outbreak of COVID-19 caused races to be canceled across the Western U.S.
After months of not being able to compete, Dylan, who will attend Alder Creek Middle School this year, and his family were able to travel to Tennessee in July to compete in the Ultra4 Tear Down, where he again took first place, lapping the entire field of drivers. The competition away from the West Coast, according to Dylan’s father, doesn’t feature as advanced cars as the 232cc, custom-built racer out of Trent Fabrication.
‘The other girl never got in the car again’
Dylan began racing at age 6 as part of the first wave of youth racers allowed to drive at Ultra4 Racing events, starting off on a 170cc side-by-side.
Roughly a year later, he’d gained some experience and confidence as a driver, but then he had his first major setback in the form of a major crash.
Racing next to a girl in his division, Dylan’s tire and hers became tangled up, causing Dylan’s car to flip end-over-end three times. Both cars were left broken, Dylan’s wheels were bent, and he was left shaken up.
“The other girl never got in the car again,” said Derek.
Dylan, on the other hand, while a bit tentative, was able to go on to race in the next moto after the other family offered parts from their broken car to help fix his.
During the next few races, however, Dylan struggled to regain his confidence as a driver. That’s when his mother stepped in to offer encouragement.
“I didn’t want to get back in my car and then my mom showed me you have to get back in your car or else you can’t be a driver,” said Dylan.
Soon enough, Dylan was back behind the wheel and after several races, was pushing for podium finishes.
“For a while, we were worried that he wasn’t going to race,” said Lisa. “Eventually he gained his confidence back and he actually won a race. After that, there was no looking back.”
Trent Fabrication builds a car
As Dylan continued racing, his father and older brother began work on creating a custom car from their shop in Sparks.
Derek built the chassis, installed a 232cc engine, and Woody built the interior. By the time the car was completed, though, the two were worried it might be too powerful for the up-and-coming racer.
“I didn’t think he was going to be able to handle it,” said Derek. “I told him, ‘this car is going to step out on you.’ And he’s like, ‘yeah, I got this dad.’ He went out there and had great car control. It was awesome.”
Dylan said he spun out a few times at first, but soon figured out how to drift around corners before launching down a straightaway.
“He just figured it out,” said Derek. “I think a lot of it was watching that movie “Cars” and Lightning McQueen talking about how sometimes you gotta turn right to go left. He just knew what to do. It was pretty cool.”
Shifting to a higher gear
With much of the racing season canceled, Dylan was only able to race his car a few times, and will now age out of his division into a larger side-by-side class.
And while the races and competition are important to him and the family, it’s the life lessons learned on and off the track that are driven home to the youngster, whether being made to ask for his own sponsorships — one of which includes Truckee’s The Auto & Tire Doctor — or speaking to a crowd of onlookers from atop a podium.
“There’s character that we’re building here,” said Lisa. “Racing is definitely the most fun part, but there’s more to it. There’s a lot education there, too.”
For older brother Woody, who works in the shop and has been a co-driver for some of the top drivers in the Ultra4 Racing series, it’s been the way Dylan has conducted himself as a driver and as a peer to others that’s been most impressive.
“That’s one big thing about Dylan, is he’s always a friend to anyone,” said Woody. “He’s always supportive of other drivers.”
Going forward, Dylan said his goals are to continue driving, and move into one of the bigger cars that Trent Fabrication builds. If so, there’s little doubt No. 22 will again race to the top of a podium.
“It makes me feel like I’m following my father’s footsteps,” said Dylan. “I may be even greater than him someday.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643.
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