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Teen speeds toward dream

September 20, 2008|By JANET HEIM

BOONSBORO - Tyler Castle thrives on speed.

For the past five years, the 13-year-old Boonsboro resident has been racing quarter midget cars and winning.

This summer, he had his biggest win yet, placing first in the Light AA class at the 2008 Dirt Grand Nationals in Taylorville, Ill. He topped it off with a third-place finish in the Light B class.

Lap times for Tyler's age group are about five seconds on tracks that are about one-eighth of a mile, at speeds of about 65 mph. This is his last year racing quarter midgets before he ages out of that category.

Next year, he moves up to the Microsprint category, which races at about 90 mph, even though he has raced several times using a Micro car he and his father built from scratch.

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Tyler and his family - including parents Tim and Sandi Castle, a brother and two sisters - travel far and wide for Quarter Midget Grand National races.

They recently traveled in their motor home to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Illinois for races, and they plan to go to California next year.

While most drivers Tyler's age are in it for fun, he is hoping to make a career out of it. Tim Castle said the family supports Tyler in his ultimate goal - to become a NASCAR driver.

They might move south, where more of the races are run, to cut down on the need to travel so far, Tim Castle said.

Just like any sport, racing requires not only talent and an early start, but contacts and strategy, he said.

Tyler is racing with sons of NASCAR drivers and has earned a reputation for being fast. Tim Castle said Tyler has a knack for sizing up a track the first time he drives on it and isn't afraid to take risks.

"He's a pretty exciting driver. He makes moves. He doesn't just ride around," Tim Castle said.

Tyler is quick to point out all the safety features in his cars, as well as the safety gear he wears. From his helmet and fireproof racing gloves and suit, to the five-point harness and wrist restraints in the car, Tyler said he's well-protected.

He said he's flipped several times, but has never had to go to the emergency room.

Quarter midget racing can be an expensive sport, and Tim Castle said they're lucky to have the sponsorship of their business, Castle Auto Body & Collision Center. Tyler's brother Jake, 8, also races and won the novice national championship last year.

An eighth-grader at Boonsboro Middle School, Tyler started racing on dirt tracks, like the one at Hagerstown Speedway, and practices on the dirt track Tim Castle spent eight months building in their yard. Tyler also competes on asphalt tracks, which are faster, but the closest one is 3 1/2 hours away in Trumblesville, Pa.

Football, baseball, riding four-wheelers and playing table tennis are among Tyler's hobbies, but racing is his first love.

"It's fast. I just like the adrenaline and stuff," he said.

More information about quarter midget racing can be found at www.quartermidgets.org and www.quartermidgets.com.

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