Where 9-Year-Olds Do 60 M.P.H.
For kids who dream of racing professionally, steering go-karts around a twisting track is where it all begins.
Photographs by Scott Rossi / Text by Maria Jimenez Moya
On the second day of the Texas Grand Prix, motors were roaring. As mechanics tinkered with vehicles, drivers talked strategy with their coaches and tried to memorize the curves of the racetrack at the Speedsportz Racing Park outside Houston. “I imagine it in my brain,” said Mikey Collins as he waited for his heat to start on the last weekend in April. “I envision it and try to do laps.”
Mikey isn’t a professional racecar driver, yet — he’s only 9. And the vehicle he would soon climb into was a go-kart. But for lots of kids who dream of racing professionally, this is where it all starts: steering go-karts around a twisting track at 60 to 70 miles an hour, flying just inches over the ground.
Like lots of drivers, Mikey started young, when he was just 5, on his local track in Orlando, Fla. He was hooked. “I like competitive stuff,” he says. “Anything that has to do with passing and trying to take the lead.” Kids who get serious about the sport continue on to national races like the one in Texas: days-long competitions in which dozens of drivers compete in heats against other kids in their age group.