Racer Has Stock Answer in Search for Role Models

Article excerpt

Byline: Burt Constable

His bulging right biceps boasts a tattoo of a nasty looking skull wearing a top hat.

A cobra dominates the tattoos on his powerful left arm.

From top (the long ponytail) to bottom (the worn work boots), Billy Miotke looks as if he could be trouble.

So when the 41-year-old muscleman walked into the fast-paced, fast-growing world of stock car racing, "I think they were looking at me like I was going to steal a car," he says.

Now, he's driving one.

The Bartlett contractor is a rookie on the bottom rung of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. He took time out during the construction off-season last year to take driving lessons in Florida.

He drove in four races and came home hooked. Miotke leased a Ford Thunderbird from an owner in Joliet and is hoping to race in this summer's NASCAR ReMax Challenge circuit throughout the Midwest.

"I'm at the time of my life when I have the money and can do this," says Miotke, who is single and lives in a large brick home he built. "My friends said, 'If you want to do something, do it. You're getting old.' "

In his first race in Illinois last month at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Miotke didn't finish at the top, didn't finish at the bottom and steered clear of a multicar crash.

"I brought the car back with all the fenders," he notes, explaining "rookies usually wreck a bunch of people."

By qualifying for the race, he earned a hundred bucks.

"You know what that pays for?" Miotke says with a laugh. "One tire."

His racing goals have nothing to do with money. He says he wants to be an ambassador for the sport he sees as a savior for troubled youth.

A self-taught connoisseur of Eastern religions and philosophy, Miotke sees racing as the perfect blend of aggression and tranquillity.

A tough kid from Roselle, Miotke says he started driving a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to school illegally when he was just 15. …