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Youngsters put pedal to the metal at the racetrack

October 16, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Hunter Sisk took a turn on a racetrack too quickly Sunday afternoon.

He couldn't see, and soon he'd lost control and crashed into the guardrail. He wasn't hurt, but the car was totaled for the day.

Crashing in racing is not uncommon, but Hunter is only 6 years old, at least 10 years away from obtaining a driver's license.

He was one of about 20 children who took turns racing around the Quarter Midget racetrack on the grounds of the Hagerstown Speedway. Jay Brechbill, president of the Hagerstown Quarter Midget Club, said the day was an open house for first-time racers to get used to the cars and the track.

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"It's racing for kids," he said.

The track is about one-tenth of a mile, and he said the racers Sunday went around about 10 times each.

The track at the speedway is about five-tenths of a mile, Brechbill said.

The Quarter Midget cars, which are about 160 pounds, can go up to 50 mph depending on the age and skill level of the driver.

Like most of the other racers interviewed Sunday, Hunter said it was his first time in the driver's seat.

"I like racing," he said. "I like speeding."

Hunter, who lives in Hagerstown, said he enjoys watching racing on TV, and his parents thought he would have a good time on the Quarter Midget track.

"That's how I learned how to wreck," he said. "I wrecked hard."

After his crash, the axle on the car was broken, and the left side was covered in dirt. Hunter said dirt came into the car, and he was hurt when the car flipped on its side.

His mother, Christy Sisk of Hagerstown, said her son did about 10 laps before he crashed.

"He had the pedal to the metal," she said. "But it didn't scare him enough to stop. He said he wants to go back out today."

Jerry Lee Thompson, 12, of Frederick, Md., said Sunday was his first day racing, and that driving nearly 40 mph around the track felt fast.

"That was fast enough," he said.

Dan Aumiller, 12, of Doylesburg, Pa., said racing for the first time on the Quarter Midget track was exciting, and that the car felt powerful.

"I was barely touching the gas pedal, and I was flying," he said.

Dan and Jerry Lee said when they went around the turns, the back end of the car felt like it slid out from under them. The boys also said that feeling was one of the things they liked most about the racing.

Brechbill said the racers Sunday weren't going for speed. They were just trying to get familiar with racing and determine if they wanted to do it again.

Most said they did.

Mila Benner, 6, of Hagerstown, circled the track a few times before stopping. She said she had trouble controlling the gas and brake pedals, and wanted to see her friend try before she got back in the car.

Like most of the drivers Sunday, Mila said she was there for the speed.

"Daddy told me it was going to be fast," she said.

For details about Quarter Midget racing, go to www.HQMRA.com.

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