OWOSSO — He can’t drive a car on public roads yet, but 16-year old Hunter Doutre can handle a 3,500-pound pure stock car around Owosso Speedway.
The Flushing native is entering his junior year at Swartz Creek High School. The town is famous for its distinguished alumni who also once drove a pure stock car at the track known as “The Big O” — Byron native Erik Jones, who graduated from Swartz Creek Academy.
Doutre’s favorite driver is Jones, of course, who drives in the NASCAR Xfinity series.
Whether or not Doutre follows in Jones’ footsteps, no one can deny his racing lineage. His father, Ed Doutre Jr., still races, and his grandfather, Ed. Doutre Sr., raced at Owosso when he was younger.
“My dad and my grandpa got me into racing,” Hunter Doutre said.
Doutre’s silver and green 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which is also the same make and model Jones drove at Owosso, is emblazoned with an orange “73” on each door — a symbolic number in the Doutre family; the number has been chosen for each generation of driver at Doutre Racing.
“My dad’s car was No. 73,” said Doutre Jr. “My car was No. 73 and that was the number (Hunter wanted) … it was the year my dad graduated, the year he and my mom got married and the year I was born. That’s how the 73 came about.”
Hunter Doutre began racing go-karts at age 6 and won the first race he took part in. Owosso Motorsports Park, just a few miles down the road from the speedway, was the primary track for Doutre. He won a championship at OMP just a few years ago.
He began making the transition to the pure stock class at “The Big O” at the start of this season, when the team took ownership of the ‘77 Monte Carlo. The Doutre Racing team has nearly reached double-digits in number of cars.
“We’ve got four of these pure stocks,” Doutre Jr. said, “along with four late models and a factory-stock car.”
Hunter Doutre is quickly finding his groove, having won a heat race in his second try June 25. In his third attempt a few weeks ago, Doutre’s night ended early as he spun into the wall going down the front stretch in his heat.
“It was four-wide down the straightaway,” Hunter Doutre said. “Then everyone started crashing and I was in the middle of it.”
Added Doutre Jr.: “He got turned, overcorrected and hit the wall. It’s gonna happen.”
Doutre Jr. is familar with Owosso, having run seven straight late model races in the Owosso Nationals. Running a partial Owosso schedule this year, Doutre Jr. scored a heat race victory himself a week prior to Hunter’s heat race victory. He followed up with his best feature race finish of the season, a third-place behind Russ Cords and Nick Johnston.
Doutre Jr. may run Owosso Speedway this weekend, with one slight change to his pure stock car — a 1991 Chevrolet Impala.
“When we both race out here, I’m No. D73, because Hunter’s already got the 73,” Doutre Jr. said.