Adrenaline chasers

Despite his limited time in motorsports, junior Julian Tockman has had many near death experiences. Such incidents are common in the sport, but Tockman still enjoys it. It something that makes racing more fun, Tockman said.
Despite his limited time in motorsports, junior Julian Tockman has had many near death experiences. Such incidents are common in the sport, but Tockman still enjoys it. “It something that makes racing more fun,” Tockman said.
Photo Courtesy of Julian Tockman
Finding success with go-karting, junior Julian Tockman attended Skip Barber Racing School to learn Formula 4, a level of racing. He was unable to continue F4 due to financial issues. “I tell people not to do [motor sports] because it’s so expensive,” Tockman said. (Photo Courtesy Of Julian Tockman)
Go-karting junior learns Formula 4 racing

After sparking an interest in motor sports around two years ago, junior Julian Tockman decided to learn how to race.

Currently, he competes in go-kart racing but he has also raced in Formula 4.

F4 is higher tier of motor sports racing, where actual race cars are used.

Tockman started off go-kart racing and has competed in two seasons so far.

Both seasons, he won numerous races, finishing 2nd overall.

Because of his karting success, his father decided to put him in Skip Barber Racing School to learn F4 racing.

“Less than a year after some really good results in karting with several race wins, my dad decided, ‘OK, we’ll put you in Skip Barber Racing School,’’ he said.

To participate in the school, Tockman visited a race track in Atlanta, but due to financial issues, he was unable to participate in actual F4 races.

According to the F4 Racing Championships, a single season can cost upwards of $130,000 for a race car, repairs and other competition expenses.

Tockman hopes that by winning the Inspire Championship and other karting titles, he’ll be able to get the funding to race.

“I just need to win as many titles as I can right now to get recognition so I can get sponsors to race [F4],” he said.

Tockman almost won the championship last season, but lost due to a point technicality.

“The same thing happened to me a season before. I won a ton of races but lost out in the last race. But [that’s] motor sports,” Tockman said.

Most of Tockman’s karting takes place at the World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, but he has also raced at the Victory Raceway in St. Louis.

The go-karts he races can go as fast as 60 mph. The F4 cars that Tockman drove go up to 150 mph.

Despite only racing for two years, Tockman has been in many crashes.

“I had a crash in F4. It was my first time driving [on a wet track] in those cars. I touched what’s called the racing line, which is the really slick part of the track and the car spun and hit a wall. Somehow the car wasn’t damaged, but I definitely was,” Tockman said.

He suffered a week-long concussion from the crash, one of worst injuries he has had.

“I’ve had a lot of scary moments near-death. So it’s a fun sport,” he said.

Despite the injuries, Tockman believes safety is not a big problem in motor sports.

“I wouldn’t turn people away from it because of the danger. A lot of things have been done to make the sport a lot safer,” Tockman said.

Despite the danger, Tockman continues racing.

Sophomore Liam McDermott represents St. Louis in the Wisconsin Illinois Iowa Junior Alpine Racing Association. He placed 1st in giant slalom at the WIJARA 2024 Sundown Mountain Race in January. (Photo Courtesy Of Eblin McDermott)
Skier’s early achievement allows him to compete in older age groups

He learned to ski when he was just 6 years old and joined the Hidden Valley Ski Team when he was 8. By age 10, he was racing competitively in alpine events.

Sophomore Liam McDermott is now a platinum category skier in both slalom and giant slalom alpine events.

During the winter, McDermott practices nearly every day, traveling to Copper Mountain, Colorado every Thanksgiving for a week of training.

In warmer months, he can’t actively practice, so when winter rolls around, he typically hasn’t skied in nine months.

“It’s definitely tricky. You aren’t making the prettiest of turns, but I think after a week of training you’re really back in your groove,” McDermott said. “It’s only a three-month season here in Missouri. This year we didn’t get any snow, so my first race was my first time skiing.”

McDermott has been placing since his first year skiing, but recently moved up age groups, allowing him to start racing against 18 year olds.

“My first podium was maybe my favorite win. It was my first year ever racing, I didn’t know if I was going to be any good and I got 4th place. That’s when it clicked for me,” he said.

In slalom skiing, competitors race down a course with different poles telling them how the course moves.

Before racing, McDermott tries to memorize the combinations of a course.

“You visualize yourself and see how you want to ski the course. You’re always looking for where you can make up time where other kids aren’t going to,” he said.

During ski season, McDermott often travels for competitions, which leads to some missed school.

“I miss five to six Fridays and one or two Mondays because of races on the weekends,” he said.

Having traveled all over the country, McDermott has raced on a number of mountains such as Chestnut Mountain in Illinois, Sundown Mountain in Iowa and more.

One of his favorite things about the sport is the community.

“Everybody’s super friendly, it’s like a family. If you do good racing that day, you hear just hundreds and hundreds of compliments,” he said.

Although family friends introduced him to the team, McDermott views skiing as him and his dad’s “thing.”

“That definitely keeps me into [skiing], because it’s what we do,” he said. “He loves to see me succeed, he buys me good equipment and I make him proud.”

Diving by the Grand Turks Wall, a 7,000 foot coral reef drop-off off the coast of Turks and Caicos, sophomore Gwen Means (left) makes a hand heart with her dad. (Photo Courtesy Of Gwen Means)
Sophomore, father become certified scuba divers

An interest sparked by snorkeling in Hawaii caused sophomore Gwen Means to pursue her scuba diving certification during the summer of 2023.

“I’ve always seen clips and pictures of people scuba diving and I always thought to myself ‘man, that would be so cool to be underwater with that whole new world of different creatures,’” Means said.

After taking an online course, Means, her friend and both their fathers traveled to Bonne Terre Mines in Missouri to test for their certification.

Means currently has four certifications, including her open water certification which allows her to rent equipment, dive with a buddy and swim up to 18 meters below sea level.

Visiting Mermet Springs in Illinois, Means was able to get her buoyancy certification, teaching her how to remain buoyant underwater and reduce air consumption.

“There was a plane that crashed in this lake and a lot of really cool things you could go inside,” Means said. “And it was really scary because if you make a wrong move and something gets hooked up, then your air could automatically turn off.”

Means visited Gary’s Cove in Turks and Caicos over Thanksgiving Break, where she was able to see a variety of aquatic life from sharks to stingrays.

“Once you look down at the coral for more than five seconds, [you see] it’s like a city of little things that live in the coral,” Means said. “I had only seen pictures of coral, I had never seen coral in front of me like that, so it was definitely really cool to see.”

Although Means loves the thrill of scuba diving, she understands it may be daunting for some people.

“Once you learn about all of the things you can immediately die from, its like ‘Do I really want to do this?’” Means said.

With extended family in the Navy, Means has relatives who are also certified, but in her immediate family, it is only her and her dad.

“Me and my dad are the two people out of our close family that like to take risks and try to see and do as many new things as we possibly can,” she said.

Usually playing in the woods near his house, airsoft is a activity sophomore Finn Cronin enjoys. “If you get some buddies to play, you can have fun all day,” he said. (Photo Courtesy Of Finn Cronin)
Sophomore’s military interest sparks passion for playing airsoft

After seeing clips online last summer, sophomore Finn Cronin became interested in the game of airsoft.

“I watched a video and thought [airsoft] looked cool. I’ve always liked military-related things and running through the woods with my buddies sounded pretty fun,” Cronin said.

Airsoft is a team-based shooting game, where people are eliminated after getting shot by plastic projectiles.

Cronin mostly uses an AR-15-style airsoft rifle. Overall he has spent nearly $800 on equipment. That includes other types of airsoft guns that he uses once in a while as well as the projectiles.

He also bought a special suit that he wears when he plays to offer more protection and camouflage him in the woods.

“[The equipment] is good quality for the price,” Cronin said.

Though he mostly plays with friends, he has also on his own before just playing with whoever is at the airsoft field.

“It’s way better with friends. I don’t play too often, but when I do it’s usually with friends in the woods, and not an actual field,” he said.

When he doesn’t play in the woods, Cronin plays at Bing Field, located in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Initially, Cronin was scared of getting hurt, but after playing he got used to the pain and has never gotten more than a couple scratches.

The people, other than his friends, that he plays with also adds to his experience.

“Most [players] are pretty chill. Some of them are a little weird, but it’s fun,” he said.

One of his favorite parts of the sport is the constant possibility of getting shot.

“You kind of just sit there in the middle of the woods and you run around a little bit. But sometimes you just can’t see people, and that element of surprise is like a fun factor of the sport,” he said.

One of his favorite memories while playing was when he shot a guy who appeared out of nowhere.

“I barely noticed this dude in a bunker and I just quickly shot him in the face. He was cool about it even though I hit him right on his mask.” Cronin said. “That’s what I like about [airsoft], everyone’s so cool about it. If you do something cool, they’re like, ‘dude, that was sick’ even if they’re on the other team.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Lancer Feed
Our Goal

Your donation will allow our student journalists to continue their work. You may become a PATRON by making a donation at one of these levels: White/$30, Black/$50, Gold/$100. Patron names will be published in the print newsmagazine, on the website and once per quarter on our social media accounts.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Maddy Cox
Maddy Cox, Asst. Editor in Chief
Grade: Junior Pronouns: She/Her Years on Staff: 1 Hobbies and Interests: reading, writing, Scooby Doo, and pre-2017 Barbie movies Favorite Quote: “Screw em if they can’t take a joke,” -Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia Favorite Hot Take: The Barbie movie isn’t misandrist we just live in an overly-normalized patriarchal society. Fun Fact: I believe in the Loch Ness monster, I think it is just an undiscovered species of marine life that we don’t know or understand yet.
Rishit Sohaney
Rishit Sohaney, News Staff
Grade: Sophomore Pronouns: He/Him Years on Staff: 2 Hobbies and Interests: soccer, running, listening to music Favorite Quote: "Work smarter not harder." Favorite Hot Take: Starbucks is overrated. Fun Fact: I speak two languages but understand five.
Donate to The Lancer Feed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

The Lancer Feed staff reserves the right to delete the contents of comments which it deems inappropriate. To write a letter to the editor, send us an email at [email protected] or contact any of our staff members through their emails found on the staff profile pages.
All The Lancer Feed Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *