BAXTER -- Last weekend, Jason Tarkington was gripping an ice fishing pole among more than 9,000 anglers participating in the 15th annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Hole-in-the Day Bay on Gull Lake.
A day later, he was gripping the steering wheel of his wife's cousin's 1986 Chevrolet Nova ice racer on Moberg Lake after all three of the Hardwater Ice-Racing Association feature races had ended.
"That was cool," Tarkington, of Holdenville, Okla., said as he climbed out of Ryan Wroolie's car after making a few laps. "I've never raced before. It was awesome."
"He had a lot of fun driving that car," said Kelly Wroolie of Brainerd, Tarkington's uncle and Ryan's father. "So what if (these hard rubber class cars) only go 35 to 40 mph."
Tarkington's father-in-law and Kelly Wroolie's brother, Dennis of Konawa, Okla., said by phone Thursday that Tarkington "was kind of geared up for that deal."
This wasn't the first time Tarkington, who fished in his second straight Extravaganza, strapped on a helmet. He rode dirt bikes and four wheelers (not in races).
Tarkington also is a distant relative of someone who scrambled to avoid hitting the dirt in his football career, Minnesota Vikings great quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
Tarkington said his grandfather was Tarkenton's second or third cousin.
He said the name was changed after his grandfather's father and Tarkenton's grandfather or father had a family feud.
Like Fran Tarkenton, Tarkington also had something to tell his friends.
"I got a few stories to tell them now, don't I," he said.
Ryan, in his second year of racing and slated to drive a North Central Speedway Pure Stocker this season, also had a story to tell. He started 16th in the feature but finished fifth.
He also is among the top five racers in the class this season as the series hosted its fourth event last weekend.
To get to the track, go west of Baxter on Highway 210 until Mile Drive. Turn right and follow the signs.
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