Charlie Pauken, Maumee, fist bumps his son Chuckie Pauken, 8, for good luck before he races.
The Blade/Andy Morrison
NASCAR drivers have to start somewhere, right?
For youngsters with a need for speed and parents who can afford it, quarter midget racing is the ideal beginning point for kids who love the buzz of whipping a race car around a track, the smell of fuel, the adrenaline rush of competition.
Tucked into the Lucas County Fairgrounds in Maumee is a quarter midget racing track for kids between the ages of 5 and 16 with a hankering for racing. The costs range from $1,500 to $40,000, depending on how involved you want to get, said Jason Sprague, president of Northwest Ohio Quarter Midget Racing Association.
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He said participants learn the same lessons about team work and competition as kids who play more typical sports.
“The purpose of it is being part of the family team. It’s all families that race their cars. It builds confidence and coordination,” he said. “It’s not all about becoming a professional race car driver. It gives them a lot of confidence to go on and complete things in life.”
On Saturday at the fairgrounds the association will host the 2013 Ride and Drive from 1 to 4 p.m. for children between the ages of 5 and 16. For $15 participants can drive a controlled 10-lap ride around the track with all of the equipment provided. Also, racing will be going on before and after the ride. Information: http://nwoqmra.weebly.com.
Mr. Sprague said the cars go about 40 to 50 miles per hour and while there are occasional crashes, the safety gear prevents serious injuries beyond bumps and bruises and the rare broken bone.
“We’ve had some broken bones here or there, but very few. The danger in football and hockey far exceeds the danger in quarter midget because you’re in a fire suit, a helmet, and have all these harnesses on them,” he said.
Potential participants shouldn’t be too intimidated about the costs and the mechanical skill needed to run a quarter midget car, he said, noting that the community of racers helps each other a lot and you can get started on the low end for a few thousand dollars.
“It’s as crazy as you want to get with it; whatever your budget allows you to do,” he said, noting that he and his sons Owen and Hayden travel all over the country racing. “The sky’s the limit, baby.”
Contact Rod Lockwood at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6159.