Sprinting Through The Asphalt Life
Father-Son Race Team Advertise Atlas With 70 HorsepowerAngie Lewis, Writer
Every Saturday night from March until September, 11-year-old Caleb “Showtime” Sutherland climbs into the driver’s seat of his mini sprint race car. When the green flag drops, he puts the pedal to the metal, smoothly navigating the oval dirt track alongside his opponents. Together, their engines sound like a swarm of angry bees as the cars reach speeds up to 70 mph. On the sidelines, Caleb’s crew chief — and dad — Jon Sutherland, owner of Sutherland Development in Matteson, IL, cheers him on with pride.
“He's fun to watch because he always puts on a show, and he always gives it 110%,” Sutherland says. “You always know he's out there, so that's why we call him Showtime.”
Caleb is a second-generation racer, following in the footsteps of his dad, who grew up racing Motocross with his father. His two older brothers also raced Motocross — and so did Caleb, but he wasn’t interested in two wheels. Plus, his dad worried about serious injuries.
Moving on to four wheels, Caleb began with champ karts at age 9 and won the track championship the following year. This is the first year he’s raced in a mini sprint.
“The jump from a junior champ kart to a mini sprint is a very large leap,” Sutherland explains. “So, we went into this year with very humble expectations. Our goal is to learn this year, but when we line up next year, our goal is to win.
“We've been racing our entire lives, but every time you change to a different type of a car, it's a very tall learning curve. Not only just driving the car, but the whole program with getting all your supplies, what equipment you need and getting all your inventory to actually go out there and be competitive and have what you need to do it. And it is quite expensive. Unless you have just a mountain of money, your first year is a complete building year from all ends.”
Riding With Atlas
To help cover the cost of advertising for Caleb’s No. 64 car, Sutherland worked with Brian Pelletier, an Atlas sales rep for Illinois, who secured a sponsorship from the roofing manufacturer. As a sponsor, Atlas is prominently featured on the car, including the Atlas Roofing logo on the top and wings of the car, Scotchgard™ Protector logo on each side and Asphalt Life logo on the front.
“I’m just looking for somebody to be involved with us, growing with us through the future,” Sutherland says.
“We’re trying to get as much exposure that we can. These kids with the race cars are like a magnet. There’s plenty of 35- or 40-year-old, beer-bellied, hillbilly race car drivers around the planet, but the kids are more interesting. When we’re doing car shows and Caleb’s there, people are absolutely astonished and say, ‘You drive that car?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I drive it. That’s my race car.’ They can’t fathom the idea that an 11-year-old drives that race car, so it’s pretty cool. It’s a very big attention getter.”
Taking Care Of Business
Maintaining a race car involves a lot of problem solving, which is what Sutherland does off the track too.
In addition to his new construction and remodeling business, he resolves storm-recovery issues for other companies, including JRC Services in Central Florida and its sister company, CertaSeal. Sutherland has known JRC president and Atlas Pro™ contractor Jim Ricci more than 25 years.
“I’m not a roofer, but I resolve non-roofing issues,” he explains. “There are a lot of related issues with window and cabinet work. Jobs often have challenges, such as specialized flashings and very detailed work with roofs, like copper bays. I basically do what other people can’t do. I do very specialized punch-out work within roofing jobs in the industry.”
The companies Sutherland works with use Atlas products exclusively.
“I’m with the product every day and I love it,” he says.
For The Win
Construction and racing have given Sutherland a strong work ethic and taught him how to be patient. Now he’s teaching those skills to his son.
“Caleb’s definitely going to be successful,” he says. “I tell him all the time, ‘There’s no doubt you’re going to win a bunch of races. When is when you’re ready to win those races.’ There’s a difference.
“I’ve been around racing a long time, so I’m using my experience. I do it my way. A lot of people just go wide open right out of the gate and, in my experience, all that ends up doing is causing a lot of frustration and a lot of damaged parts. There’s a more calculated way of starting and that’s the way I’m teaching him — to do it the right way.”