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Thu, Nov. 14

Chino Valley police officer builds, races dirt cars with husband

John and Patrol Sergeant Deana Winn with one of the sand cars they’ve built and race. (Jason Wheeler/Review)

John and Patrol Sergeant Deana Winn with one of the sand cars they’ve built and race. (Jason Wheeler/Review)

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John and Patrol Sergeant Deana Winn racing a sand car in Primm, Nevada. (Deana Winn/Courtesy)

On the clock, Deana Winn is a patrol sergeant for the Chino Valley Police Department but off the clock, she builds and races sand cars with her husband, John Winn.

They started doing it together after their kids, who also raced, were all grown and they were still going to every race, Deana Winn said.

“I was like ‘why are we going to every race and not racing,” she said. “Let’s race, we’re not getting any younger.”

It’s enjoyable to have an interest and a hobby they can do together, Deana Winn said, adding she usually helps with the navigation. One of the big things she does in that regard is watch the mirrors for faster cars coming up behind them so they can get out of their way, she said. Their class nine car is one of the slower cars, so the better classes and faster cars will bump them out of the way if they don’t move, Deana Winn said. She also tries to remember the course and the things coming up to watch out for, she said.

John Winn said he’s been a part of the sand car racing scene since he was a teenager in the 1980s when he was a member of a pit crew.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said. “That’s why I got into welding was to be able to build these things.”

The two of them race in the Southern Nevada Offroad Enthusiasts circuit and their next race is in December in Laughlin, John Winn said. There’s quite a bit of prep that has to be done before each race, too he said. Every nut and bolt has to be checked and all the fluids have to be changed and while the car is a simple class, it can get pretty involved, John Winn said. The car also needs some fixing after the last race they did, including rebuilding the suspension, rebuilding the shocks and redoing the springs, fixing rims and even transmission work, he said.

Like every hobby, it’s expensive, Deana Winn said. The car they have right now is probably the least expensive the two of them could go, but it’s never cheap, she said. Still, getting out of the uniform and onto the track is a stress relief, Deana Winn said.

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John and Patrol Sergeant Deana Winn racing a sand car in Caliente, Nev. (Deana Winn/Courtesy)

“You get out there and you’re not thinking about the rest of the world,” she said. “You’re thinking about trying to survive in this thing.”

It’s a good community, too, she said. Competitors will help each other out with anything they need, Deana Winn said. John Winn recalled that even as a member of a pit crew, it didn’t matter who pulled into your pit you took care of and fixed them. Hopefully they’ll remember it and return the favor someday, he said.

Looking ahead, John Winn said he’d like to get a bigger sponsorship so he can get a better car with more suspension that’s a little more comfortable to drive.

“The class I’d like to get into is about $50,000 for a car,” he said. “That’s cheap.”

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