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Family tradition: Father-daughter duo race together at Berlin

Joe, Lauren Bush bonding through racing
Joe and Lauren Bush strengthening bond through racing
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jul 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-10 16:18:44-04

HASTINGS, Mich. — Growing up, Hastings native and resident Joe Bush caught the racing fever after watching his dad compete at the old Hastings Speedway.

"Pretty much, after I got out of high school I was like, 'Eh, I want to try racing,'" Bush chuckled.

Joe, Lauren Bush share special memories together on the race track

And it quickly became a lifestyle.

"I grew up racing. My wife Lorraine, her dad and her brother Rob both raced with me at Kalamazoo and that's how we met was at the race track, at Kalamazoo Speedway."

Joe Bush in his first race car
Joe Bush in his first race car at Kalamazoo Speedway back in the early 1980s.

Decades later, that racing bug was passed on from Joe to his daughter Lauren.

"Lauren was about 13 or 14-years-old, she said dad I want to race and I said you do?!" Joe laughed.

The start of Lauren's career would take her to the DeltaPlex where she began arena racing.

"I did arena racing and that was kind of when everything came together. I did that for one winter season and I was hooked," she added.

Like young racers all across the country, Lauren's teenage years were anything but normal.

"Everybody would be out on Friday night at football games and I was like nope, I can't do that, I have to get my race car ready for Saturday," she recalled.

Lauren Bush's 101L car
Lauren Bush in her No. 101L during a race at Berlin Raceway in the 2021 season.

And her progression was underway.

From arena racing, to the sportsman division two years later, her journey took her to the super late model division where she's been for the past decade, right next to her dad at Berlin Raceway.

"We were thinking about running a different class with her like the limited late models, then I'd still run the super late models," Joe said, "but she said, no dad I want to race with you."

On a summer Saturday night at Berlin, you'll see two identical cars, both sporting No. 101 but Lauren's with the letter 'L' next to it the number.

Joe Bush celebrates his victory with his daughter, Lauren
Joe Bush celebrates his Super Late Model feature victory on May 8, 2021 with his daughter, Lauren. It was his first feature win since 2017.

She says it's meant the world to her to experience this with her father.

"It's been a dream come true to have done this, looking back I never would have thought we would have been racing together."

Like any other parent, Joe admits the nerves are high during certain races watching his daughter get behind the wheel.

Joe and Lauren Bush celebrate on May 8
Joe and Lauren Bush celebrate Joe's feature win on May 8, 2021.

"It's actually better if I'm racing," he laughed, "I don't think about it or worry about it so much but when I'm not racing. However, if I'm just helping Lauren up on the hauler, I can feel my heart beating pretty hard."

At 59 years of age, Joe says there are still zero plans for hanging up his racing suit any time soon.

However, he admits the countless hours of working on the cars are taking a slight toll.

"The late nights are getting a little harder than they used to be," he smiled, "I used to do all-nighters a lot but I'm not sure I want to do an all-nighter anymore. As far as driving and racing, yeah I feel really good about it."

Joe Bush in the shop
Joe Bush (right) next to son-in-law, Nick Sokoloski.

And Lauren agrees.

"He's not going to stop racing until he needs to," she added, "which isn't any time soon, so hopefully we'll be able to continue doing this together."

Even after Joe eventually decides to hang it up, whenever that may be, there's still a chance the family legacy could continue.

Renton Sokoloski climbs into the race car
Nick and Lauren's son, Renton Sokoloski climbs into his mother's race car on Friday night.

Lauren and her husband, Nick Sokoloski have two sons, Renton (age 7) and Hendrix (age 4), who already love helping on the cars and attending the races.

It's only a matter of time before they begin to get the same family bug.

Joe and Lauren Bush would like to thank the following crew for their continued efforts: Harvey Sytsma, Nick Sokoloski, Lorraine Bush, Dan Talsma, Ed Bernatowicz and Ed Stehouwer.

They also say none of this would be possible without their sponsors: Rick Marshall of D&M Window Cleaning, Liberty Muffler and Brake, D&B Heat Transfer, Wolf Kubota, Bush Mini Excavating and they also continue to support Lori's Voice.