As the Valley quiets from the roar of NASCAR Engines, the dust will fly as Phoenix International Raceway begins a huge renovation project to replace the track surface. Jeff Gordon was the driver who won the February 2011 Sprint Cup race and he had the honor of making the first cut to the track. So how did Jeff get to this?
At the very young age of 5, Jeff Gordon, together with his parents, started racing quarter-midget racecars in California. These quarter scale – kid size racecars have been around for some 50 years. Many youngsters from the age of 5 – 16 years old strap in and pilot their cars around the track, just like the NASCAR drivers that burned their tires at PIR. The Phoenix, AZ based “Valley of the Sun” Club is located at South Mountain Park, 10919 So Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ, 85040.
Other NASCAR stars that come from quarter-midget racing are Bobby and Terry Labonte, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Joe Nemecek and Jason Leffler, as well as local standout, J.J. Yeley. In fact, the driver currently standing atop the Nationwide points after PIR, Reed Sorenson, also got his start in a quarter-midget.
The USAC Mopar 2011 Generation Next, National Series, begins in Phoenix on March 12th and travels to 12 different tracks across the country. The best of 5 races determines the champions that are honored at the USAC National Banquet in Indianapolis in December. Bryant Dawson, of Phoenix was honored as one of those champions in 2010.
Mark your calendars for March 12th and 13th. Admission is always FREE! If you like what you see, come back out for the “Arrive and Drive” event on March 19th and put your kid behind the wheel!
Please visit the Valley of the Sun Quarter-Midget Club at South Mountain Park to see the newest and youngest drivers start their racing careers, just like Jeff Gordon.
For more information about this event or quarter-midget racing go to vsqma.org, quartermidgets.com, usacracing.com and jeffgordon.com.