By Keith Shelton
For The Daily News
GLADSTONE - For Jordan Ives, 16, of Gladstone, things just got real.
Ives, a young racing prospect, received the biggest break of his early career Monday when it was announced he was the winner of the Federal-Mogul "Search for a Champion" contest from Champion Spark Plugs, and a sponsorship worth $50,000.
Nearly 400 drivers from around the country entered the contest by submitting promotional videos. When Ives heard about the opportunity, he entered with the thought of getting his name out there. Then despite the odds against him, it was announced he had made the cut for the final 15.
"I wasn't really expecting much," the soft-spoken driver said. "I just wanted to put myself out there, but I didn't think I'd go so far as to win it. Once I made the top-15, I thought maybe I can do this."
Making his victory even more unlikely, Ives was entered in the final hour before the deadline for submissions, according to his mother Angie.
"We only had a day or so to get it done and put in - it was last minute by the time we found out," she said. "We only had a couple days and we had to think about what we were going to do, but he decided to go for it and give it a try.
"We are extremely proud of both of our sons. Jordan's big brother Ben had Jordan come up to his place where he had some recording equipment and had him go through the script he put together. We recorded it the next night, Ben went home and worked all night long editing and submitted it the next day in time. It's been a family project. To see how well Jordan did impressed me. He tends to be a shy kid."
The contest was decided by fan-vote, and over 243,000 members of the Champion online community cast their votes for the contest. On Monday, Ives was informed of his victory.
"I was pretty excited, I didn't think it was real at first, I was just jumping around afterward," he said.
Ives explained that he will put the $50,000 mostly into his car, which he races locally at the Norway Speedway. Ives estimated that in a typical season, nearly $100,000 is spent on parts and repairs for his Chevrolet Monte Carlo Super Late-Model car.
Additionally, the sponsorship money will be used to enter his car onto new tracks this upcoming season. Ives said a fee of approximately $200 is required to enter a car on a new track in addition to tires and pit passes for his crew.
"We're hoping to improve our race team and improve our car. We want to change the body out and put it toward parts on the car as needed," he said. "Just from going to each track we probably spend 100 grand a year. This will help us go to new tracks that we haven't been able to go before, it will help us learn a lot."
Jordan's parents are very appreciative as well.
"We've invested quite a bit into his racing the last couple years once he moved to late models," said Angie. "We wanted to give him the chance and opportunity to live out his dream and accomplish what he'd like to do later in life. This definitely helps."
Racing is in Jordan's blood and in his immediate family. His brother Ben, father Steve and mother Angie all raced Microsprint cars. At Norway Speedway, Jordan won eight races in 2012 and was named the track's Rookie of the Year. The following season, Jordan finished in the top 10 in points and was selected Most Improved Driver.
"Ben raced Microsprint cars on the ice and dirt with Jordan for a couple years and Steve did as well," said Angie. "At one time all three were racing together and I did also."
Ives, who just turned 16 on Sunday was still in awe of the contest victory when reached on Tuesday. The humble young driver said he owed a lot to the surrounding community, friends and family for supporting him along the way.
"It's just so great to know I have so many supporters," he said. "It's just so amazing."
Angie said Jordan winning the contest reflects on the community and the support he had.
"This truly shows when a community pulls together in a positive way, what we can accomplish," she said. "We're so thankful to the community for coming alongside us and voting daily, showing such great support and giving Jordan so many encouraging words along the way."
And perhaps just as valuable as the $50,000, is the national recognition Ives has received. National press releases sent out feature Jordan Ives' name, which could pay even more dividends down the road.
"It's amazing to know that I'm getting my name out across the whole United States and getting myself out there," he said.
"The name recognition helps to put it out there in hopes someone will see it, take a look at our website, and maybe see something in Jordan and perhaps take him on as a driver," Angie said.
Ives' first race at Norway Speedway this season is scheduled for May 23, but those wanting to see him in acting earlier, stay tuned.
"If we get our car ready, we're going to try making it to Toledo, Ohio for April 12," he said.