HERMON, Maine — Dylan Street is 12 and has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is an inflammation of the brain that can also cause swelling and bleeding.
As a result, he has a shunt, which is a small passage that leads from his brain to his stomach and drains the excess fluid from his brain.
He has been told that he can’t play football by his family doctor.
But that hasn’t stopped the Old Town youngster from racing a four-cylinder Acura Integra in the Sport 4 division at Speedway 95 in Hermon.
Street is small but he is a competitor. The fact he is racing with men much older than him has caught some people off-guard.
“Some of my teachers don’t believe he races cars. I’ve had to show them a picture of him [in his race suit with his car],” said his 14-year-old sister, Alyssa Street.
Despite the fact he is racing with drivers two, three and four times his age, he is currently sitting in fourth place in the points standings.
He has two fourth-place finishes and a fifth through nine races. And he has already won a heat race.
It is his third year of racing and first in the Sport 4 division.
He also plays hockey for the Maine Freeze travel team and is a catcher for his Little League All-Star team.
Street doesn’t consider his illness a hindrance. And he isn’t fearful.
“It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m well-protected,” explained the youngster, who considers auto racing and hockey his favorite sports.
His mother, Andrea Street, explained that he has a top-quality helmet, a HANS device for head and neck support and a “special containment seat” in his race car. He is also well-protected in baseball and hockey, she said.
Unlike a lot of drivers who started in go-karts, Street never raced go-karts.
His interest in racing began after attending a Wacky Wednesday race program with his family when he was 9 at Speedway 95. Wacky Wednesday is for entry-level drivers.
“I asked him, ‘If I bought you a race car, would you drive it?’” said Jeff Street, Dylan’s father.
“I wasn’t sure about it at first,” said Dylan. “Then I thought ‘maybe’ and finally I said yes.”
Jeff Street began looking for a race car for his son and Ed Libby, father of 16-year-old Sportsman-class driver Emma Libby, helped him find one and fix it up.
Dylan’s mother taught him how to drive at camp at the same time she was teaching her niece, Makayla, and Alyssa Street.
“[We] went out in a standard 1991 Saturn,” said Andrea Street.
Dylan has always been mechanically inclined, according to his father, mother and sister.
Jeff Street owns Street’s Landscape and Lawncare in Old Town, and said his son was always interested in his equipment.
“I have a mower with two sticks [shifts], which isn’t the easiest thing to drive, but he hopped on it and went with it. He’s well-coordinated,” said Jeff Street.
“He would always go over to dad’s shop and run his equipment,” said older sister Alyssa. “If he didn’t know how to run something, he would watch someone else run it and then go and do it. He’s a quick learner.”
Andrea said her son always wants to take the reins of their four-wheelers, snowmobiles and watercraft.
“I knew it would be the same way with a car,” she said.
Dylan’s father rented Speedway 95 so Dylan could get some laps under his belt before he made his debut in the Stars of Tomorrow, a Wacky Wednesday class for 10-18 year-olds.
Andrea Street said her son spun the car around on his 20th lap of practice and that was valuable because he experienced one of the dangers involved in racing and it didn’t faze him.
“I wanted him to feel what it was like to go through that. It made him more sure of himself,” she said.
Street ran in his first Stars of Tomorrow race at age 10.
“I was kind of slow at first. I was just getting used to it,” he said.
But again he proved to be a quick learner.
In two seasons in the Stars of Tomorrow, he won “seven or eight” races and finished second and fourth in the points.
After his second season, Jeff Street asked his son if he wanted to move up to the Sport 4 class.
Dylan said yes, so Jeff Street called Speedway 95 owner Del Merritt and head scorer and office manager Kim Baker Allen to get their approval.
They gave him their OK and he began racing in the Sport-4s on Saturday nights.
Dylan Street said he is enjoying the class.
“I like it. It’s competitive and I enjoy the speed. Our lap times have been pretty fast,” said Street.
He said winning a heat race was a big thrill and that he continues to learn every week.
“There’s a lot to it,” he said.
Street has made a positive impression on his peers.
“I’m pretty impressed with him already. He has beaten me more than once,” said Carmel’s Ted Ryder, who is second in points in the division. “He has better control of his car than a lot of guys who have been driving for years. I like seeing these young drivers come up. They’re fun to watch. He’ll do well.”
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s got a good car,” added Skowhegan’s Zach Audet, who is third in points.
Baker Allen said Street is an aggressive driver “but not overly aggressive.
“He has a good attitude and he works as hard as he can,” said Allen. “I think he can go far.”
Racing is a family affair for the Streets and other family members. Dylan’s uncle, Richard Brown, is his crew chief.
“We love it,” said Andrea.
Alyssa Street is her brother’s biggest fan.
And Dylan, who will be in seventh grade in the fall, said the kids at his Leonard Middle School think it’s “cool” that he is a race car driver.
One of his classmates, Caleb Kalel of Stillwater, races in the Stars of Tomorrow.
Street has lofty goals for the rest of the season.
“I want to win a feature race and run the 50-lap race at the end of the season,” he said. “I’d like to finish in the top five in points. And I have a goal of racing a Late Model car at the end of the year.”