Roger Warren of Jacksonville can say he lives and breathes cars. As an automotive shop owner in Jacksonville, no one would be surprised he enjoys racing on the track.

Those who enjoy the sport of drag racing can see him participate in a field of approximately 400 other racers vying for winner’s bragging rights at this year’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series East Texas Championship, held Thursday through Sunday at the Cherokee Motorsports Park in Rusk.

“It will be a good race,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing that comes to East Texas.”

Graduating from Jacksonville High School in 1972, Roger said he began racing two years later.

“I worked on cars all my life,” Roger said. “I was just growing up interested in racing.”

Last month, Roger competed and won another Lucas Oil Division Race — at the Red River Raceway in Louisiana, giving him contention for this race held in Rusk.

Roger is not a stranger to winning races and earning titles. In 2003, he won the O’Reilly National Event held in Houston, calling the win a “pretty big accomplishment.”

Back in the 1980s, he won several division titles. He finished in the top 10 world standings twice. He has won numerous track championships over the years — going to Division Four finals twice and world finals once.

“I have pretty much done everything I want to do,” Roger added.

At one time, Roger raced with two vehicles — a two-door dragster and door car.

“I still run the door car in super gas,” Roger said. “Basically it’s a full body ‘97 Oldsmoblie Cutlass prostock chasey.”

Now, his 16-year-old son David races the dragster. Roger said David has already won a track championship and divisional title.

“He’s already faster than I was,” Roger added.

Roger said the door car can reach speeds over 165 miles per hour, while the dragster’s top speed is approximately 185 miles per hour, but the speed factor doesn’t necessarily mean racing is dangerous.

“There’s lots of protection — we got a lot of safety equipment,” Roger said. “Of course, anything can happen, but you’re safer out there than driving on the highway.”

Recently, father and son actually raced together in a final round.

So who won?

“I did,” Roger said with a laugh. “He’s got to earn it (but) he gave me a good race.”

Roger said his wife, Jackie, even enjoys watching races — but she doesn’t just watch — she is the duo’s crew chief.

“We keep her pretty busy,” Roger said. “We’re very involved — it keeps the family close knit. We know where our son is — he’s racing — he’s on the track with us.

“It’s just a good, clean family sport.”

Gates initially opened today (Thursday, June 15) at 10 a.m., with a test and tuning of cars, operated by the track, from noon to 6 p.m. The event continues through Sunday. General admission/Pit Pass ticket prices for adults for Thursday and Friday is $10 and Saturday and Sunday is $20. Prices for children six to 12 is $5 each day, while children ages five and younger get in free with a paying adult.

For more information, call 903-683-4711 or visit the Web site www.cherokeecountymotorsportspark.com.