Asked to make a choice, Wes Burningham would have a difficult time making one right now. Presently, his interests rest with revved up engines and squealing tires.
In a couple of months he'll turn off the key and don pads and helmet for the gridiron. Then, a few months past that, he'll switch to sneakers and a jersey for action on the hardwoods. Then it's back to the shop for tune-ups and testing. And then . . .So the cycle will go, at least for another year or so and then it's likely something will have to win out - auto racing, football, or basketball.
The problem is he's very good at all three. Compounding the problem, he likes all three. It's unlikely, however, college coaches will care much for him racing around an oval track with a dozen other cars at 60 to 70 miles per hour, hitting and bumping and sometimes crashing.
Still, the 6-too-5, 195 pound sometimes-driver, sometimes-tight end, sometimes-center, enjoys what he's doing now and there's nothing holding him back, although he admits he sometimes gets "a little tired of all the work."
For now, his car's running well - a highly modified 1983 Camaro - and he's training and pumping iron daily in preparation for the football season. And, just to keep his range, he squeezes in a few baskets now and then.
Uppermost on his mind right now, however, is the car and Monday night at Bonneville Raceway Park when he puts his developing racing skills to their greatest test when he goes not only against Utah's best, but also top drivers from Idaho in the biggest oval race of the season.
Gates to the park will open at 5 p.m., with time trials starting at 7 p.m. and the first race a 8 p.m. Fireworks will follow the night of racing.
Burningham made his first solo in a late model race cars last year. He ended up driving in one race. Prior to that he was a passenger in a street stock driven by Lee Cryfel. His time as a passenger, said his father, Clayne, himself a veteran of the oval track routine, was good experience.
"It taught me," says the younger Burningham, "what not to do. I guess, when I got behind the wheel it helped me."
In his second race in 1987, he crashed and sat out the remaining races. The good part was it allowed him to keep his rookie status this season.
This year he got right with it and took the overall driving lead in late model racing, the highest level of oval track racing now at the track, and will carry itwith him when he goes into Monday's race.
As an introduction to the Monday show, Bonneville will host street stocks and mini stock cars on Saturday. This race, too, will start at 5 p.m., with time trials at 7 p.m. and racing at 8 p.m.
Young Burningham came up through junior programs in football and basketball. At Granite High he was a starter in both sports last year, helping the Farmers to the state playoffs in football, and a third in region, and to a fifth in region in basketball.
So, which does he enjoy the most?
"All three," he says without hesitation. "Racing's a little more thrilling. Because of the speed it makes the heart beat a little faster."
As for the senior Burningham, he says he doesn't mind giving up the driver's seat for turning wrenches for his son's Premium Machine-sponsored car.
"I still find myself sitting on the wall while he's driving and trying to make every corner for him. That's the hard part," he says.
Soon, however, he'll have two to turn for. His younger son, Aaron, 16, will be behind the wheel of his own car before the season is over.
As for Wes, he says he's taking a wait and see attitude.
"I've still got time before I have to make any decisions. . . . and right now I'm having fun with all three."