For the Love of the Race
When it comes to the various sporting activities our children can be involved in, many parents in Wilson County list all of the usual: soccer, baseball, football, basketball and the list can go on and on . . . but one many might miss is racing Quarter Midgets…
Music City Quarter Midget Racing Association
When it comes to the various sporting activities our children can be involved in, many parents in Wilson County list all of the usual: soccer, baseball, football, basketball and the list can go on and on . . . but one many might miss is racing Quarter Midgets.
What’s that? Well, its only one of the most exciting and fun filled sporting activities for children in the area!
In 1997, thanks to the generosity of Pete and Scotty Barnett and BAV paving, Music City Quarter Midget Racing Association was started right here in our backyard.
For those who might not familiar with Quarter Midget Racing, QMA is a family oriented sport that involves racing in special prepared cars. The cars, rules and safety procedures are designed specifically for kids. They race on oval tracks approximately 1/20 of a mile. A child who is 5 to 16 years of age can race. QMA tracks are located all across the United States but in Tennessee the only track is in Hermitage at 3672 Central Pike. Many of our local residents and their children participate in this activity, including our own third grade Gladeville elementary student, Hunter Wright.
Hunter, who is now eight years old, started racing when he was just six. He grew up watching his father, Dwayne Wright, run race cars at Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop, Tennessee. Hunter appears to be a “chip off the old block” as he loves racing and recently came in first in the local Junior Honda Division Race. Hunter says “racing Quarter Midgets is so much fun!”
A Quarter Midget car is a scaled-down version of an actual midget racer, approximately 1/4 scale. The cars are built around a tubular frame and are fully suspended with springs or torsion bars and shocks. The bodies are fiberglass and are usually painted to the driver’s preference. Dwayne Wright, Hunter’s father is the owner of Premier Sign and Trophy in Gladeville and designed both Hunter’s car and helmet.
Pemiersignandtrophy.com is also one of the sponsors. Dwayne couldn’t be prouder of his son and has given up racing himself now, so he can devote his time to helping Hunter race both here and in other regions.
According to Julie, “the sport is very safe or else I would not let my son participate.” Surrounding the driver is a chrome-moly roll cage and nerf bars. The engines are single cylinder and are manufactured by Honda, Continental, Briggs & Stratton, and Deco. In the motors stock configuration they produce between 2.5 & 4 horse power. Modifications in the upper classes allow these engines to reach several times the stock horse power. These air-cooled 4-cycle engines are reliable and can produce as much as 10,000 rpm’s in their more highly modified forms.
Quarter Midget Racing was started many years ago in order to develop sportsmanship in the children while also providing a family oriented racing activity. In recognition of the drivers, trophies are awarded at Regional, State, and National events. Locally, the children can race in about 13 or 14 races a year or about twice a month. Those who are interested in competing in this area can also compete in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. There are local, regional and national races.
Many current NASCAR drivers like Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Bobby and Terry Labonte all raced quarter midgets when they were younger. In Wilson County, Hunter races with other local children including Davis Rochester, Dylan Fetcho, Dalton Gibson, Cameron Madison and Hannah Garrett. All the kids love doing it and according to their parents this “is Wilson County’s best kept secret.”
Julie Wright, Hunter’s mom, noted that “Quarter Midget racing is not a “drop off your kid” kind of sport, but an involved family sport.” Few other sports permit all members of the family to participate. The kids do the driving while other family members serve as pit crews, chief mechanics, scorers, timekeepers, and operators of concession stand or novelty booths. The families all volunteer their time and those who participate really become “family.” The kids play together, race together and travel together. They not only become good friends with other local children but actually develop long lasting friendships with children they compete with out of state. According to Dwayne the “families really watch out for each other.”
Julie also noted that “this activity really teaches the meaning of sportsmanship, fair play by following rules, how to be a good winner or a gracious loser. It also teaches self-reliance because once a green flag has dropped, they are on their own.”
The spirit of competition also comes along here. The children learn to drive hard, but also learn that rules must be observed. The children develop both knowledge and an appreciation for mechanical devices. And another added benefit is that it teaches safe driving skills that are carried on by the children in their teen years on the road. Very few people develop the skill that these children acquire.
Probably one of the most important aspects of this sport, however, is that it gives these children a well-earned right and a sense of pride and accomplishment. They stand taller and are more confident after becoming proficient Quarter Midget Drivers. This confidence and sense of “belonging to a group”, can be seen amongst these young drivers.
For those interested in taking a quarter midget for a spin, twice a year, in the spring and fall, the association opens up its track to the area. For just ten dollars children of all ages can go out to the track and test drive a quarter midget. For those interested in more than just one spin, the association is open to all children and the families. “We always welcome more children and families to participate,” adds Dwayne.
This local organization also makes it a point to give back to the community. In May of this year, the children and their families held a fund-raiser and raised over two thousand dollars for Vanderbilt Life Flight. “The kids not only had a good time participating but were excited about doing something for others,” said Julie. “It really is a wonderful sport and a wonderful group of people.”