Have you ever heard the saying that someone is “born to race”? I guess that is as true with me as well. My dad was a professional ice oval racer for Arctic Cat when I was born.
When I was 18 months old, he put a wheel kit on a Arctic Cat Z120, hooked the tether cord to his wrist and ran beside me as I rode that sled around the lawn before the snow came that fall. The skis went on when the snow arrived and I rode for hours and hours every chance I could get. Soon I entered my first race and did pretty good. When I was 3 dad put me on a Yamaha Sno Scoot and I won my first race which was a slalom course at SnoDeo in Rangley. The next year I was on a F1 Kitty Cat and won the kids ice drags at SnoDeo. When I was 4, my sister and I got 50cc Suzuki ATV’s and I guess we scared my parents as we both got airborne a bit too much. So away went the ATV’s and back came a Yamaha PW50. That was my first dirt bike and I loved it. When I was 5, I started racing motocross on a KTM Mini Adventure. At 6, I won the 50cc 4-6 year old, Maine Motocross Series Championship. Little did I know that this was the beginning of what was to come. I kept winning and kept moving up. In 2007, I was still winning MX races and was running in both the 50cc 7-9 and 65cc classes. That year I crashed had at Valley Motorsports Park. I broke my wrist and growth plate and had to sit out several races. Broken bones were nothing new as although I only crashed once or twice per year, I always broke something when I went down. I cam back in the fall of that year and won the last MX race I ran at MX-207. The next week I was playing soccer and complained to my parents that it hurt just to run.
When we visited the doctors the next week we were pretty surprised that I had a broken back. I don’t know when I broke it, but L5 was fractured on one side and dislocated on the other. No more MX for me. 6 months in a back brace. My parents told me I was done with racing as this was my 9th broken bone and I was only 9 years old. I remember pitching Cal Ripken games that summer with that darn back brace on. Not a lot of fun. That winter I was able to start playing basketball again but something was missing. I was not the same kid as I was when I was racing and asked my parents if they could please find something that I could race. That spring, my dad took me to Thundering Valley Raceway where we met Nate & Marty. They were nice enough to put a special seat in a kart that would allow me to race with my brace on. Nate said he had trouble with MX kids before so he did not suggest that I start out in the first years racers class even though I had never driven a kart in my life. My dad said that would be fine and my mom took me to my first practice where I was able to keep up with the others kids.
So that year I won both Jr. Sportsman (Blue Plate) and Sportsman Rally (Gold Plate) Championships.
The next year we tried mini cups. I won all but one feature that year. My dad was searching on the internet for a open wheel race car that we might be able to run in Maine. He found a TTC Mod in Rochester, NH. The ad said “not a toy and not for a kid”. So we went down to check it out and it was pretty close to what we were looking for. The guy was very nice but said he would not sell it if a kid was going to drive it as it was a very fast car. We talked him into it and got a good deal that included a extra GSXR1100 motor. Loaded it in the trailer and headed home. A few nights later we fired it up and I drove my first standard shift race car. Did laps in our driveway. The car was very responsive and hooked up well, even on old tires. My dad and a friend went and bought a few more of the TTC Mods and we took them to Wiscassett raceway to turn some laps. Wow! They were fast and easy to drive. In no time I was running laps close to Pro Stock times (I had a lot more rubber to work with than a PS). We did a few exhibition laps and Unity and Wiz that Fall and the people were quite surprised that a 11 year old could drive a car that fast. So that is how the Maine Mods were born. A talented group of 10-15 year old kids got cars and we ran races from Spud to Monadnock. It was fun but 2011 was time for a new challenge and we decided to see if I could get a 12 year old waiver to run NELCAR. I got the waiver, we had a friend pick up a used Legend car down South and headed to NHMS to see if I could drive it. I never had even driven a Legend car until we rolled out for the first practice. If you have driven one you know that they are a handful but also a hoot to drive. The first few races I would get into the top 10 (I was running 3rd in my first road course race with one lap to go when I lost my brakes) and have a mechanical failure. At the July Cup Weekend, I finished 5th only to get DQ’s in tech for my wheelbase being 1/8″ too long on the right side. Our fault. We never checked it. Frustrating but we had not idea what we were doing or how to set one up. Somehow, we were lucky enough to hook up with Bob Weymouth and he quickly solved the mechanical issues with the cars and the finishes started coming. I finished the season with a string of top 5 finishes and did so without touching anyone on the track (well I may have touched the 399 car once but that was just one of those “racing deals” as they say). I hope I have earned the respect of my fellow competitors and plan on running as many NELCAR races as I can in 2012, along with as many Pro Stock/Super Late Model races as we can make. Really bummed that I can not run all the tracks yet (still too young) but I understand. 2011 also allowed me to get some laps in behind the wheel of a LMS at Unity and Speedway 95. Glad to have that behind me so that I at least have some idea what to expect with my Super Late Model.
2012 has started off pretty good for me so far. I won the USCC Cross Country race at Lake Parlin (had the best time for my class and the 14-17 class despite crashing in the woods and getting pinned under my Sno Pro 500 for 2 minutes). Got a call the night before the East Coast Sno Cross even at Sugarloaf and was offered a ride for the next day. Had only been on a SX track once in my life and that was 3 years ago. Had to start in the back row but pulled off a 3rd place finish on a sled that was set up for a kid half my size. A bit sore after that one but it was a blast to hit the doubles and jump over people. My last snowmobile race of the season was the USCC race in Greenville where I again won my class and also had the best time for the 14-17 class as well (I could only run a 500 liquid because of my age but the 14-17 class could run 600 liquids. They pulled me on the straights but I caught them in the rough stuff and through the turns) That is my first USCC Championship and I am in hopes of returning next year on a Sno Pro 600 and running the 14-17 class.
So my plan for 2012 is to continue to learn all that I can from Bob as well as others that I race against. Also, I am very, very fortunate to be able to have Tony Ricci as my crew chief for my Super Late Model program. I know that Ricci Race Cars will put a well prepared car under me at each race I run and all I have to do is learn how to drive it. Should be a blast. See you at the track!