Racing for a cure

A Local youth puts the pedal to the metal to raise money for a cancer victim.

Jason Parmelee is puttiing the pedal to the metal to raise money for a local cancer victim.

The 17-year-old student at Wishkah High School has taken to the race track in an effort to help a family friend pay for his treatments.

The idea came to him after he attended a silent auction to benefit Tom Martin, a long-time family friend who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in February. Imaging revealed Martin’s cancer had spread to his liver, lungs, back and brain.

“I started thinking, what’s the best thing I could do for him,” Parmelee said.

Parmelee had just bought a 1992 Honda Prelude off Facebook for $600 and thought he would try his hand at racing on the clay oval track at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma. He admits his car was not up to the task and needed a lot of work to be competitive. But he did win the first heat of his first race before the car broke down.

“One of the veterans in the race said to me, ‘You’re pretty fast. I couldn’t keep up with you,’” Parmelee said. “It gave me a lot of confidence.”

Parmelee decided to name his car Team Tom for his friend, and had 50 Team Tom T-shirts printed to sell at the races to help Tom pay for medical expenses.

“Tom’s like a second dad to me. If I needed something in my life he’d be the first to help me out,” Parmelee said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help him.”

Martin is originally from Raymond, and owns the BBRATS espresso stand at Grays Harbor College. He tries to make it to every single race, and stays as long as he can.

Parmelee says he is going to continue racing and hopes possibly to make a career of it. He also says he would like to attend either the welding or diesel mechanic’s program at the college someday. But for now, he is content just to finish high school and continue racing. He has given Martin $700 from T-shirt sales and is looking to purchase more and possibly some sweatshirts, to help raise additional money.

Many local businesses have sponsored Parmelee, providing him with everything from spare tires to decals and gas money.

“It takes a lot of money just to entertain people,” he admits. “There is no real prize money in my class, the Outlaw Tuners.”

But Parmelee is not about to stop racing, it’s in his blood now, he says. His next race is Sept. 17 at the Elma Raceway.

Martin had his final chemotherapy session Wednesday, and a recent PET scan showed no active cancer.

“Tom’s a walking miracle,” said Darlene Parmelee, Jason’s mother. “And we think Jason’s pretty special too.”