Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

With "The Rocklin Rocket" Robert Ballou

Thanks Robert! Let's flip the switch and get after it!

Ballou: Thanks for this opportunity Gary.

Your father John has obviously been a huge piece of the puzzle in regards to your career. Can you share what his background is in racing?

Ballou: My dad raced Quarter Midgets for a couple of years, and has always loved to watch all forms of racing. My dad also raced Chuck Gurney Jr. in my sisters Quarter Midget one year and Chuck won the Championship. The other parents were pretty upset about that.

From 1994 to 2002 you had some extremely successful years running 1/4 Midget's and Kart's...

Ballou: Yes, in 1/4 Midget's I won 21 Championships, and 2 National Championships. Much of my 1/4 Midget success would not have been possible without the support of Tad Fiser Racing, and my parents. My stint in Kart's was shorter, but I obtained 3 Championships and 2 Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 3 years.

You went out of state and were successful out on the road too....

Ballou: Yes, in 1/4 Midget's I traveled all over the United States and Canada. Fiser would bring his race cars to various tracks around the country, and my Dad and I would fly in for the events. One of my National Championships was won at a track in Xenia, Ohio. I also lost a National Championship on the last lap in Colorado, after having lapped everyone but 2nd place. That was a heart breaker!!! I had many track records, and wins out on the road.

In 2003 you raced 10 times at California's Petaluma Speedway. You got in a little trouble didn't you?

Ballou: Actually, my trouble came in Medford, Oregon. This was a week shy of my 14th birthday, and the only time anyone ever asked to see proof of my age. They didn't let me run the feature that night, but an official called my dad the following week and said they wanted me to come back. We never did go back because we ran at Petaluma the following week and no one questioned my age, and it was several hundred miles closer to home. I did get some smack for being a little too aggressive. I enjoyed racing at Petaluma, and had some good runs. It was cool getting my 1st win at Petaluma in 2005.

What was it like at such a young age running one of those beast's for the first time?

Ballou: It was a lot different from the Kart's because the suspension and power steering produced such a different feel. The biggest difference was finding the 4 corners of the race car with the Sprint Car being so much bigger!

It's not like you're old now. You're only 16!

Ballou: Yeah, I will actually be 17 on March 29th. Even as far back as 1/4 Midgets no one could keep track of my age because I have always raced against kids much older than I am. I remember one year in Outlaw Karts they listed me as 10 years-old in the program and I was actually 12!

Racing is such a time consuming sport as you know. But to be on top of your game, you have to dedicate yourself whole heartily. How do you maintain focus at such a young age?

Ballou: Since I have been racing since 5, I really don't remember life without racing. Racing is second nature to me. Racing has always been the main event in my family for as long as I can remember. My sister and I both raced 1/4 Midgets and my parents and grandparents took us every weekend to the track 10 months out of the year. The majority of my friends were at the race track, not in the neighborhood. The birthday parties were at the track with the other racing families. After homework, the focus was always on getting the car ready for the next race. I tried other sports, but really didn't have the time to focus on anything but racing.

I would like to know how a 16 year old kid has developed such a competitive desire to win?

Ballou: I have basically been racing my whole life, and the desire to win is like a fire burning inside that I just can't get enough of. If we hit a dry spell my dad and I sit and talk for hours about what we can change on the car or what I can do as a driver to turn things around. I have to say I get the competitive drive from my dad.

In a short period of time running sprint cars, it's amazing what you have accomplished at this point in you career. For instance: In the 2005 season you finished a stout 3rd place in California's sprint car Civil War Series behind hard charging veterans Greg DeCaries and Colby Weisz. In addition you took home Rookie of the year honors for the 2005 Civil War season too!

Ballou: Yeah, 2005 was a great year, and I could not have done any of this without the support of my family and the sponsors. Part of our success in 2005 was with the help of Clark Riolo as my Crew Chief. It was good to have someone besides dad to do some of the critiquing.

You picked up a win on round #4 Civil War Series action at Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville, Ca. That's a tough joint to win at....

Ballou: It is a very small bullring track, but I like the wheel to wheel action.

Let's back peddle a bit and travel down the road to King's Speedway in Hanford. In the 2004 season, you were Rookie of the year, and finished a respectable 5th in points!

Ballou: That was my first full year racing a Sprint Car. I gained a lot of experience racing every weekend.

Do you realize you may have won the last sprint car race there? That win came on Saturday, August 6th 2005..

Ballou: I hope someone takes the track over because California can't afford to lose another track.

OK, let's head back up to the bullring at Placerville. You set a NTR of 10.291, that's damn fast! On top of that, you are the 2005 Rookie of the year there too!

Ballou: Again, I really like the bullring action, and how there is a cushion every night. I actually didn't know that I was Rookie of the year until it was announced at the Awards Banquet.

Yourself and BK put on a helluva show there for the final Civil War show there. You were up top just banging the rim! What a feeling it must be to be racing a guy that you have so much respect for...

Ballou: Yeah it was awesome racing against Brent because he's the best in the West, and he is someone I look up to. He has also helped me with the driver's side of racing, so it was cool running upfront with him.

You won against the big dogs of the Golden State Challenge Series at Antioch. Not only was it a big win, but you became the youngest driver in the history of the club to win a race!

Ballou: Antioch was only my 3rd 410 start, so I was pretty excited. I didn't realize at the time that I was the youngest driver to win a race in this series.

I need to mention the show you put on at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Ca. It was at the "Pacific Sprint Cup Invitational", the night before the Gold Cup kicks off. You came from 15th to 7th on basically a one lane deal. You also won your heat that night too. Some may say, well big deal, but you drove your ass off!

Ballou: Yeah, we got behind a little bit in qualifying, but I never gave up trying to go forward.

With you doing the full GSC deal for the first time this year, what are some of the things that concern you?

Ballou: CONSISTENCY is a must to be successful in this series.

Let's bring the RPM's down a bit. I hear you may take the wing off for a few shows this year....

Ballou: Yes, when Golden State is done, I am planning to race USAC/CRA. I have been working on my dad to take this step for awhile, and he is finally ready.

Brent Kaeding, "The Hogs", and Kaeding Performance have been extremely helpful to you. Can you explain in what ways?

Ballou: Yes, Brent, "The Hogs", and Kaeding Performance as a whole have been extremely helpful to both me and my dad. Brent has coached me on various tracks, and "The Hogs" are always around to chip in with assistance on the car. I would also like to thank Brian Matherly for his help and support.

You're using the ultra potent Don Ott racing engines out of Pennsylvania. I hear they are pretty good to you guys....

Ballou: Yes, we got hooked up with Don through Terry Cowan when he owned the 7T Sprint Car. Don has been very helpful with anything we needed and has provided great service.


You're heading out of state this year to do some sprint car racing....

Ballou: Yes, if everything works as planned we will be at Skagit for the Dirt Cup, and then in Knoxville for the Nationals.

So where do you hope your career ends up Robert? Where do you hope to go?

Ballou: I would like to race some pavement midgets and sprint cars, and hopefully move on from there. I have an open mind and anything is possible.

I wish you the best in 2006. Is there anything else that you would like to say? Anyone that you would like to thank?

Ballou: Thanks again Gary for this opportunity and your well wishes for 2006. I would also like to thank all of my sponsors: Gardemeyer Finish Carpentry, THR & Sons, Gliko Hardware & Constructions, MPD, Kaeding Performance, SCHLAGE, Swimming Pool Perfections, A1A Performance Muffler, Don Ott Race Engines, and Papa.


Be sure to follow the Ballou Motorsports team at

All pictures courtesy of John's Racing Photos






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