Game X Change hosted a promotional event Saturday that had the town talking. The Game X Change Jet Dragster put on quite a show at noon and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The store has recently added comic books, trading cards and manga to its existing offering of video games and DVDs. The event Saturday in conjunction with Ray Kelley, the car's driver, and his Game X Change jet dragster caused a lot of smoke and noise, but was successful in letting people know Game X Change is on the map. The event had around 20 to 30 911 calls.
Jessica Clark, the district manager of the Athens store for two years, said she hoped the event would show off the store's newest offerings.
At Game X Change you can trade in unwanted items to get a store credit for other items of interest such as video game systems, iPods, smart-phones and movies/games.
“We really just want people to get more of a value out of their used items,” Clark said.
Game X Change started sponsoring Kelley, who installs stores for them nationwide and now they have exhibitions for stores several times a year.
Kelley was born in Hawaii to military parents Eugene and Wilma Kelley. They moved all over the world with several overseas tours, but The Kelleys still found time to take Ray to his first race.
“I was about 8 years old and my parents took me to my first drag strip ever, they had about five different cars and from that day I was hooked. I said, one day I'm going to have me one of those things, and after I found out how much they cost it took me a little longer.”
Aggie Hendricks, a pioneer for women in racing, drove a jet car back then and was very encouraging and kind to Kelley.
“She was very kind to me as a young kid and I still have her signed autograph card,” Kelley said. “That is where I got my inspiration for how to treat my fans.” When Eugene retired they settled near Fort Hood. “I have been around great people who mentored me and encouraged me to follow my dreams. If it can be done, if it can be said.”
“In order to get the National Hot Rod Association license, you have to have a closed racetrack for two days, make 12 passes with many officials and drivers. It is a very hard process. You have to have a very solid car to withstand 12 passes without maintenance, there isn't time for that,” Kelley said. “You have got to overcome your fears, you can't let anything bother you. If you can't do that then this sport isn't for you. When you realize you could die, that's when it get's fun.”
According to Kelley, the force of driving the dragster is so violent your vision actually goes blurry. 8,500 lbs. of thrust designed to push an airplane through the air, I put it on a 1,200 lb. car. Without a strap the force would pull his helmet off. It accelerates from 0-100 mph in one second. The more air that comes through the faster it wants to go... it has the capability of going 325 mph in a quarter mile.
Ray is also a pilot. He drove the Chattanooga Choo Choo for Casey Jones. Working with Jones' team is where he learned how to run a two-car team. They are currently in the process of building a second car. They bought Steve Motter's old car Firefly, it will be rebuilt as a Game X Change dragster as well.
Kelley has two daughters he is very proud of, Kyle, 27, who attended Texas State and Hannah, 17, who will start West Point next year. The girls are very supportive and enjoyed traveling with dad, he said they found the traveling exciting and fun.
Ray will be running on June 28 and June 29, and in Lufkin July 4. Please view his website for more details. http://jetblastproductions.com/
Game X Change is located at 1111 E. Tyler St. and is open from 10 a.m. To 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. 903-675-4263 or you can view their its at http://www.gogamexchange.com/