Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quarter midget racers bring big skills to race day - UPDATED with video

They drive quarter-scale cars, but have full focus on and off the race track.

Drivers at the Quarter Midget Association’s Eastern Grands have spent years modifying their skills and race cars – some of which easily exceed $7,000 – all for a chance to be tops in their class. The 2010 installment of the national event is going on this week at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and more than 500 drivers are all vying for the top award, the Brick trophy.

Each driver, who range from 5 to 16 years old, comes from one of 32 states or Canada, has his or her own philosophy on what it takes to win.

“You have to have common sense, you have to anticipate a little and you have to be smooth,” said Michael Ostdiek, a 13-year-old from Minnesota who’s been racing since he was 5.

Pennsylvania’s Rich Sweeney said there are several factors that come into play once racers are on the concrete 1/20 of a mile “Mini-Indy Speedway” at the fairgrounds.

“Everything has to be right. The car, the track, the judges – even the flag,” said the 14-year-old, whose car can get up to near 50 mph. “Everything has to go right to win.”

Winning is only one small part of the sport for these pint-sized quarter-midget drivers, their friends and family.

Michael’s mother, Teresa Ostdiek, likened the sport to 4-H, in that everyone gets to build close relationships with one another. There are other perks, too, she noted.

“They continue to become more confident,” she said. “The kids that are behind a wheel are sometimes better drivers than those with a license.”

For more on this speedy sport, visit http://www.mini-indy.org/ or watch the video below.

Submitted by Kristofer Karol
(Photo courtesy of Central Indiana
Quarter Midgets of America

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