Quarter Midgets are the earliest entry to Speedway racing. Many of our hot shot drivers started out racing quarter midgets, Michael Pickens, Brad Mosen, Shane Van Gisbergen, Jamie McDonald, Hayden Williams, Gina Harris and Hayden Guptill to name a few. Drivers can start from the ripe old age of 8 and race through to 16 years old, although quite a few have had dispensation to move through the ranks early from the age of 15.
The quarter midget class has proven to be a successful first step into speedway racing and has given these young drivers life skills, such as self-confidence, assurance, the ability to get on with others and respect for fellow competitors and officials. You may think these kids don’t have the skills to put on a show at the Springs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, they are lapping at just over 5 seconds slower than the Midget track record. Just look at the first two rows of last week’s midget feature and you’ll see all four of those hot shots came out of Kiwi Kidz.
The quarter midget is actually a bit of a misnomer as the cars are not all that much smaller than a TQ midget. The idea is that an 8 year old can handle one, but it will still be large enough for a 16 year old teenager to fit into.
In typical speedway fashion the quarter midget club are a family affair with Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters all getting involved. This year they started a new initiative where past quarter midget drivers were buddied up with current drivers. This initiative was the brain child of Darren Pennington, father of Bryce and Troy, “When I phoned around the superstars to ask if they would be willing to come along and help for a day, they all jumped at the chance and were 100% into it” said Pennington. “The kids loved it and all got so much out of the day”. Pennington is hoping this is the first of many and he would like to see a friendship grow between the drivers and their mentors which hopefully will continue into the season.
As well as the mentor programme the club also have driver training officers for newcomers (cadets) to learn from. New Drivers are taught the basics of car control, track craft, flags and rules before being allowed to race. The cadets will start from the rear of the field with a ribbon tied to the roll cage to show they are to be given plenty of room on the track. Each cadet is watched by the driver trainer closely before being approved to go into the marble draw for their grid position.
These kids provide some awesome wheel to wheel action and with a field of around 16 cars, there’s always some good racing to be seen.
If you look at the drivers on the podium each week from the TQ, F2, Midget & Sprintcar classes, you will see many ex Quarter Midget drivers. So keep an eye on the Kiwikidz, for they will be our future champions.