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Alvie Haynes to retire, son to carry on tradition

By JEREMY DICKMAN

Morning Sun News Editor

Notoriously noted as a day of bad luck, on Friday, May 13, I received an unexpected and upsetting phone call from a close friend of mine.

That call came from veteran dirt track racecar driver and lifelong Mt. Pleasant resident Alvie
“Hot Rod” Haynes.

With just five simple words, “Jeremy, I can’t race anymore,” I felt like I was just kicked in the stomach and to quote Alvie, “It was like someone I loved just died.”

With one phone call I learned that Alvie, who had been experiencing some stomach issues over the last few weeks, was told by doctors to give up his passion and something he had done for more than two decades, or risk being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

If he continued racing, Alvie could even face death if he were to get into a severe accident.

A veteran of dirt track racing since 1989, Alvie experienced a near fatal snowmobile accident in the winter of 2000 that resulted in an open fracture to the right femur bone and a severing of the femoral artery.

As a result of that accident, over the last 10 years Alvie has gone through many ups and downs health-wise. In the end the injuries have finally caught up to him.

For most athletes the thought of the “R” word – retirement is a dreaded one and one that athletes, professional or amateur, want decided on their terms.

A devoted family man, Alvie said although the decision to give up racing was a very tough and emotional one, being around family, his wife Heather, 17-year-old son Richie, 12-year-old daughter Shania, parents Janet and Richard, and sister Emma, takes priority over anything else.

So with that, Alvie made the tough, but ultimately, the only decision he could, to step aside and hang up his helmet.

A longtime fan of Alvie’s as a racecar driver, I really got to know Alvie the person over the last three years through his creation of “Cans from Race Fans.”

Always trying to give back to his fans and hometown, Alvie came up with the idea to hold a food drive and fill up his racecar hauler with nonperishable items to help local charities.

After coming up with this idea Alvie called me and asked for my help because of my newspaper background and from there we became very close friends.

A favorite of fans and competitors alike, Alvie got several of his racing buddies involved with the food drive and the result was an overwhelming success in year one.

From there the event exploded into bigger and better things in year two. This year the event became so big it reached out to eight different racetracks in Michigan, including Mt. Pleasant Speedway, even a track as far away as Kentucky.

While it will be difficult not seeing Alvie behind his signature No. 18 Late Model, the Haynes tradition will live on. Alvie’s son, Richie, will be making his racing debut tonight behind the wheel of his father’s car and carrying on the Haynes legacy.

On Tuesday Richie climbed into his dad’s Late Model and made several practice laps around the three-eighths mile Mt. Pleasant Speedway track to get experience before tonight’s Late Model debut as the Mt. Pleasant Speedway hosts a full show of racing in UMP Late Models, Smokers Club UMP Stock Cars, NAPA UMP Modified Mini Stocks, Mt. Pleasant and Clare Automotive Stock Minis, and a Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort UMP Modified special.

As I watched Richie make those practice laps, it was obvious to everyone around that Alvie could not be happier and was proud as could be for his son.

I have no doubt after watching Richie show no fear in his seat time, that given time, he will succeed and his dad will be right there by his side cheering him on every step of the way.

(Originally printed in Friday, May 20 issue of Morning Sun)