Joey Hand knows that Linda Emmick would forgive him for not being at her funeral this morning in Fair Oaks.
The race car driver from Wilton is in Germany this weekend for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) Series at the famous Lausitzring. Emmick first sponsored Hand when he was a 12-year-old kart driver, and she took great pleasure in his rise to compete among some of the world's best drivers.
Emmick passed away June 5 at 69 after a stroke. She owned Emmick Enterprises, a Sacramento-based karting chassis and engine building company with an international clientele. She was a fixture in local, regional, national and international karting circles and was a pioneer, having won many top titles as a driver and as a race team owner.
But Hand said she took the greatest pride in seeing the drivers she sponsored succeed.
"I think about my career and, other than my parents, she was the person who helped me the most," said Hand, who now drives for BMW Team RBM in the series that features BMWs, Mercedes Benzes and Audis. "Without her support, I don't think I'd be driving professionally, and certainly not on this level."
Joey's father, Les, worked for Emmick for years, leading the sales effort. Young Joey said he spent practically his entire teen years in the shop working with Emmick's team of engine and chassis builders and learning the business from the tires up. He met his best friend, Jason Baker, at the shop.
Hand won five California championships and seven national titles for Emmick Enterprises.
Even when Hand, 34, started his own Formula Mazda team (now Star Mazda Series) in 1998 after six years in an Emmick kart, Linda paid his entry fees, Hand said.
Hand finished fourth in the standings in '98, and, with Emmick writing the entry checks again in 1999, he won the Formula Mazda title and caught the eye of international racing teams. Since then, he has driven in the Toyota Atlantic, Grand Am and American Le Mans series, with top-10 season point finishes every year except 2012, when he finished 20th in his first year driving DTM.
Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, Hand along with co-drivers Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal and Scott Pruett (Auburn) won the 2011 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, driving the No. 01 Riley-BMW Daytona Prototype.
But his karting career sponsored by Emmick will always bring back fond memories, Hand said.
When Hand heard Emmick was sick, he visited her at Mercy San Juan Hospital. She was unconscious, he said, as he quietly said goodbye.
"I feel better about seeing her," Hand said. "I could always tell she was proud of me."
Wilton's Lupton rising Another Wilton driver, Dylan Lupton, is starting to make a name for himself.
Lupton, a 19-year-old rookie in the K&N Pro Series West, sits in fifth place in the points standings entering the Carneros 200 on June 22 at Sonoma Raceway. He leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings after finishing a career-high third in the Toyota/G-Oil 150 on June 9 at Lebanon I-44 Speedway in Missouri.
The Sonoma race will be Lupton's second on a road course in a stock car. In May, he finished fourth at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota in Round 3 of the NASCAR K&N West Series.
NASCAR hauler parade The NASCAR haulers of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and many more Sprint Cup Series drivers will parade over the Tower Bridge and around the State Capitol at 2 p.m. on June 20 on their way to Sonoma Raceway for the 25th Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 23.
The best view of the hauler parade will be at the corner of 11th and L streets.
For more information, go to bit.ly/18Dq1fm.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com.