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A passion for racing
Sillses makes the track a family affair
07.21 sills family racing
The Sills family keeps racing all in the family. Husband and wife Clint and Amber, along with father Walter and son, Adam Flaharty, are all active in racing at the Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Pooler. The Sillses say it’s a family affair. - photo by Photo by David Carlson Jr.

Around here racing seems to run in the family and it’s easy to see when you look out at the grandstands at the Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Pooler. Mom and dad sit watching the races as teenage daughters walk around checking the boys out. For one Effingham family, that certainly holds true.

Clint and Amber Sills race in the Street Stocks division and always make it a family affair.  

“The whole family’s involved in one way or another,” said Clint Sills. “There’s about four of us that race.”

That includes not just husband and wife, but son, Adam Flaharty, 18, and Clint’s father, Walter.

Clint, a longshoreman of 12 years, has been racing for 15 years.

“I’ve always been around it,” he said. “My father raced, probably as young as I can remember. I was probably 7 or 8 years old when he started racing out there (OSP). When he was younger, he won a lot of races out there and he’s always been around the race track.”

Said Amber: “He was raised on it and (Walter’s) wife’s always been a part of it. Cindy, she loves it.”

As for Amber, she started racing in 2000 but took some time off for a few years to get married and have a baby. This is her first solid year back on the track, and she’s hanging in there competing with the guys.

Clint and Amber met — where else? — Oglethorpe Speedway Park.

“We had seen each other around the track,” said Clint.

“We had a mutual friend — our best friend,” Amber continued.

Clint said they just always saw each other at the track and they got to talking more and more.

“Then we got married and had babies and all,” Amber said. “It was easy for us to bond because we had racing, you know, that was something we both enjoyed.”

Amber said her husband has really helped her a lot in racing.

“Clint has taught me a lot,” she said. “I can get out there and work on the cars with them and I change rear ends and engines —I get out there and I get dirty.”

Because of Amber’s lack of experience, her first year in racing was pretty costly.

“My first year I probably spent $30,000,” she said. “I had to buy a trailer and all and I probably spent $30,000 on a pure stock. It’s only about a $3,000 vehicle altogether, race-ready. But because I knew nothing, and everybody was, ‘you’ve got to do this and do that,’ and I always had to pay somebody to do it and I had to buy the parts.

“I spent a lot of money to go nowhere.”

Clint said racing is “almost like an addiction.”

“You get an adrenaline rush when you do it,” he said.

For Amber, racing with the men is very challenging.

“I’m a very competitive person,” she said. “It’s a lot more challenging for me to try to go out there and even stay up with them. It’s a higher level of competition.”

Added Clint: “You’ve got some guys racing out there now like James Norris and like I say, I’ve watched him when I was sitting in the grandstands years ago and he’s still out there racing with us. She’s out there with people with a lot of experience.”

And as a family, they’re not doing badly at all. In the July 10 races, Clint took first place and Amber was 10th, in spite of losing her transmission. Father Walter brought home second in his division.

Clint said because of rain and track conditions, last week’s race brought a lot of needed repair work this week.

“Last week was just so rough,” he said. “I’ve never won a race where I had bent ball joints, bent tie rods and no brakes, won the race and never hit another car. I’ve never done anything like that.”

When asked if they do it for the money, Clint laughed and said as he looked around a room with all their trophies, “No, I do this for the fun and for the bragging rights. You can get a return out of it, but basically, unless you win, you’re breaking even.”

“It’s definitely something that’s brought us together,” Amber said, “and it’s just something that we enjoy and you know, the family enjoys it. You know, we even enjoy working on the cars, that’s kept the bond between us.”