Sports

Life in the fast lanes

"Ask Lonnie Sharkey which of his twin passions is his favorite - bowling or drag racing - and you're liable to get little more than a shrug and a grin.The prize money Sharkey has won over the years, he admits, probably has subsidized his racing. But the drags have allowed him to step out of the bowling alley each summer, find competition and success in a different venue, then return refreshed from the strip to the alley each fall.They've both been real good to me, says Sharkey, a longtime Silverdale resident who's been prominent in the local racing scene, downright dominant in local bowling circles. I can bowl all during the season, and then in April it's time to go out and drive the car.It's worked out great. It's really been a lot of fun.lSharkey's been wearing deep ruts in the local lanes and dragstrips since his folks, Don and Vee, brought him to the area from Chicago as a high school junior, back in 1972.His family - wife Chris and daughters Stephanie and Carrie - is a weekly fixture at Bremerton Raceway during the summer, and haunts All Star Lanes in Silverdale almost nightly during the winter.His successes in both arenas is near-legend. He's been a member of the Kitsap County Bowling Hall of Fame since 1986, and lurks near the top of the points standings in the Super Pro category in competition at Bremerton Raceway.But Sharkey's as deeply rooted in the community as he is in the local sports lore. The Sharkeys live on a quiet street, about a block away from Don and Vee's house. The girls already have made their own marks, senior Stephanie as a member of Central Kitsap High School's two-time state-finalist girls bowling team (including a championship in 2000), sophomore Carrie as a competitive gymnast and new member of the Olympic High School cheer squad.I've missed events of my own to go watch my kids, says Sharkey. That doesn't bother me. I know what's more important - there'll be another tournament or another race soon enough. We try to spend as much time as possible together.Sometimes, that's easier said than done. During the school year, Sharkey has leagues a couple of nights a week and has tournaments on weekends. Chris, who teaches special education at Silver Ridge Elementary School, and the girls also bowl at least one night a week, in addition to their school activities.By the time the bowling leagues cool down and it's time to tune up his 1966 Chevy II for the drag racing season, Sharkey is glad for the chance to shift gears. Racing is more of a weekend activity, and he says he's lucky that his girls feel at home in the pits.The car, he says, is almost like another member of the family - indeed, he's had it longer than either of his daughters.I've had it since 1979, he smiles. It was my street car. I used to drive it to work, and cruised town in it with my wife on Friday night.We take it to races in Oregon or Canada, and we make it a family weekend, he says. The girls have been out there (at the track) since they were in strollers.lSharkey says his parents gave him his strong sense of family values. They also gave him bowling. They would bowl in leagues at West Park Lanes, and he would tag along. Eventually, he got rolling in the junior program there, and when he graduated from Central Kitsap High School in 1973, he went to work there.I worked there for 12 years, until the (Puget Sound Naval) Shipyard called, he said. I kept working at the game, and I thrived on competition.He got good enough to make money at the game, and even had a sponsor offer to stake him while he tried the pro tour. That was right after he and Chris married, though, and about the time he had the opportunity to go to work at the Shipyard.If I'd been single at the time, I might've taken that (sponsor's) offer, he said. But in our situation at the time, I didn't feel like I could.He still competes in national and regional-level events from time to time, when his work and family schedules allow. But his focus is mostly local - a founding member of the Kitsap Scratch Bowlers Organization (KSBO), he has served as co-president the last two years.I still travel, and I think about the Masters Tour, he says, rolling his eyes. You have to be 50, and I'm 46 ... it's something to think about.Just as long as it doesn't cut into the drag racing season, that is. "

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