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Doug Pace: Bissett boys become stuff of Legends

For the Bissett brothers, Joe and Jake, racing is all they have known from an early age. From go-karts to their current success in Legend Cars, national championships have always been the goal.

With each accomplishing their goals in karting before making the transition to Legend Cars, the Bissett brothers have a renewed focus that hits high gear this weekend. Joe, recently graduated from Freeman High School, and incoming freshman Jake head to Montana Raceway Park for the Eighth Annual Legends Thunder, which could earn the duo points toward a national championship in the Semi-Pro division.

The Bissetts are the first- and second-highest-ranked Semi-Pros in Raceway Park’s local division and each has had strong runs in 2009. Winning Legends Thunder, something no Inland Empire driver has accomplished, would be a big boost to their growing careers.

“It would be really cool to win it,” Joe said. “But we really have to wait and see who shows up to this race, but I do know that Jake and I are the top Semi-Pros (in Kalispell) and it would mean a whole lot toward our goal of growing a Legends class here in the area if either one of us could win it.”

This weekend’s event is big for both of the Bissetts, but as Joe pointed out, growing a class closer to home is a goal each one has.

“I’d like to introduce some of the karters to this level of racing and grow the class at Stateline,” Joe said. “We have talked to (go-kart racers) about what it takes and we’re hopeful (of growth). I plan on running Legends here in the area while I am in my first two years of college and then see what happens from there.”

When Bissett talks about waiting to see who enters Legends Thunder before assessing their chances, he speaks from experience. Drivers from as far away as South Carolina, Florida and Arizona make the trek to Kalispell for the annual national points race.

For Jake Bissett, the upcoming Legends Thunder event is just another race weekend.

“You just have to get to racing another driver, no matter who they are or where they come from,” Jake said. “Every race for each of us is the same but with different competition, so we’re just going to stay focused like we do on one race at a time.”

Some sibling rivalry may factor into the final laps.

“We do try to work together in a race, but if push comes to shove I may have to move Joe a little bit for a win and I know that’s how he’d race me,” Jake said.

Jumping from karts to the more adjustable Legends car has been a learning curve for both drivers. With Joe a few years older then his brother, having some extra laps hasn’t hurt in either driver’s development.

“Everything we’re doing feeds back to both our cars,” Jake said. “If Joe is faster and has a good set-up, we may throw that at my car – and the same goes with mine going back into his.”

Legend cars create an equal playing field in their rules. Having information that can be shared is a big benefit to potential victory, Joe said.

“The level of competition is huge,” he said. “Everything is under a (standardized) rule, from engines to parts. I think it makes the driver have to come out and be able to handle the car, more than someone who may have a good car but hasn’t learned to drive it yet.”

Joe said that even with shared knowledge, sometimes what’s working on one car may not always follow suit to the others.

“I know that at times what I have in my car may not be working for (Jake),” Joe said.

Practice for the Eighth Annual Legends Thunder at Montana Raceway Park begins today with qualifying. Main events are Saturday. Those interested in growing a Legends Car division at Stateline Speedway are encouraged to contact the facility at (208) 773-5019.

You can reach The Spokesman-Review’s Motorsports Correspondent, Doug Pace, at

Tags: racing