This past weekend, Oakland Valley Speedway hosted a big event for clone engined powered go-karts. Sanctioned by the World Karting Association, and sponsored by businesses from as far away as Florida, there were classes for Senior and Junior drivers. With $500 going to the winner of the Senior race, and $100 going to the winner of the Junior race, it brought out the best of the best in the Northeast region.
Jimmy Ross, 11 of Ridgefield, CT, a regular NKA competitor, made the trip to Cuddebackville, NY with all the enthusiasm one might expect from a middle school aged boy. Having practiced at the facility one week earlier, he had high hopes for a strong finish. Turns out he didn't disappoint.
The event consisted of two heats and a feature race, with the heats serving to set the qualifying order for the feature race. After two rounds of practice, Ross's kart was handling well, but seemed to lack the outright speed to get to the front. With finishes of 4th place and 3rd place, Ross qualified 3rd for the main event.
The lead-in to the feature race was electric. The tension in the air was as thick as the dew that had begun to set in as temperatures which were as high as 87 degrees dropped to about 55 degrees by race time. Ross took to the track with confidence, knowing he had the skill to control his kart at speeds exceeding 50 MPH on the 1/5th mile dirt track.
The green flag flew and Ross went to work. After falling back to 4th place briefly, Ross was able to climb into 2nd place by the end of lap 1. Halfway through the 2nd lap, Ross swept cleanly to the inside of the leader to take the lead. After a brief caution for a spinning kart on lap 7, Ross resumed his work. Slowly but surely, building his lead, Ross took the checkered flag first, claiming bragging rights and the $100 payday.
Always the sportsman, Ross reacted as he exited the track. His first words were, “I can't believe I won! How did Alex finish?” Ross's friend Alex Sokolow managed a podium finish in 3rd place.
Wrapped in this father's happy, teary-eyed embrace, I said to him, “You see buddy, practice makes perfect.”