Valdosta Daily Times

April 29, 2013

Teen race car driver dedicates career to his sister’s memory

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Victoria Newsome would have been 16 years old today. But for  family, friends and the community, she will always be a little girl, as she succumbed in 2005 to a brain tumor variety called Medulloblastoma.

Ronnie Newsome was 10 years old when his sister passed away. The son  of Lee and Margaret Anne Newsome, Ronnie is now 18, a Lowndes High School senior and a race car driver.

In 2012, Ronnie garnered seven wins; he placed 13 times within the top three out of 16 starts; he won the Young Gun of the Year award.

So far this year, Ronnie has raced four times and his winning streak continues. Within a month of his 18th birthday on March 14, Ronnie made his debut in the Frank Kimmel series. Together, with dad Lee, they are scheduled to race numerous more times this year.

Ronnie has found his thing in life. It is something he has always enjoyed, something he knew he always wanted to do, and something he now pursues. While living his life, he never forgets the little sister he lost. He has made her memory part of the thing he enjoys most in life.

He has raced as the number 8, which was Victoria’s age at the time of her passing. Ronnie has raced as the number 11.5 which is the estimated number of children who are diagnosed daily nationwide with brain tumors.

Ronnie Newsome and his race cars are affiliated with CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. CureSearch “funds and supports targeted and innovative children’s cancer research with measurable results and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children’s cancer,” according to the organization’s website.

Through racing, Ronnie hopes to raise awareness and funding for children’s cancer, while also pursuing his dream of building a career as a race car driver.

Family lore claims Ronnie’s desire to race predates his ability to even walk.

Margaret Anne Newsome tells the story of Ronnie being only a few months old, with a toy steering wheel in hand, pretending a cardboard box was a race car. With dad Lee racing, Ronnie grew up with the sport. He not only knew at an early age he wanted to race, he wanted to race at an early age.

Lee began teaching Ronnie the basics of racing cars when most kids are only racing, or driving, on video games. Ronnie was supposed to start racing at the age of 14, but a policy change kept him waiting until he was 15 for his first race. At that age, he raced in Cecil. In 2010, he drove in about five races. In 2011, he added dirt tracks to his racing credentials.

As a side note, Lee may have taught Ronnie how to be a race car driver, but Margaret Anne taught Ronnie how to drive on the streets and get his driver’s license.

This year, Ronnie is prepared to race in various classes: hobby stock, limited late model, late model and asphalt in the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Series at Rockingham Speedway and Iowa Speedway.

He’s also picked up sponsors along the way. Given his age, Ronnie has dealt with the issue of older drivers with more experience. At first, many of the other drivers thought he was too young to be on the track. With Ronnie winning races, older drivers now know he can do it, but his victories have given them a different  reason for not wanting him on the track.

But Ronnie Newsome will keep racing for himself and for the sister who passed away far too young.