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Kart racers keen on cornering kicks

SUNDAY, OCT. 4, 2009

Group fosters family fun at tracks across Northwest

Traveling at more than 50 miles per hour just inches from the ground, don’t be afraid to take that turn. The kart won’t flip.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had,” said driver Tim Davison.

Davison’s done hockey, rodeo and motocross. None, he said, compares with the thrill he gets from racing karts.

“It’s the amount of adrenaline and the workout,” he said Saturday at the Spokane Motorsports Complex in Airway Heights.

Since April, children, teens and adults in the Spokane Kart Racing Association have competed in kart races at the track about twice a month. This year’s season ended Saturday.

Children as young as 5 can compete in the sport, which fans say thrives on competitiveness and thrills but fosters family fun and a tight-knit community.

The sport draws local drivers to tracks in Tacoma, the Tri-Cities, Canby and McMinnville, Ore., and Chilliwack, B.C.

Eleven-year-old Nicole Behar has competed in 32 races this season, from Canada to Oregon and Boise. Like many young drivers, the sixth-grader was inspired by her championship-winning father.

“It took me 35 years to win a championship. It only took my daughter eight,” Rod Bambino said of his 8-year-daughter, Casey.

Casey’s been racing karts for two years and won last year’s championship for her age group.

“She says she’s a speed junkie,” Bambino said.

The league runs on a point system, with nine race days this year. Drivers compete in heats and tally points through the season.

Nine-time national champion Burt Gasaway, of Spokane Valley, began racing in 1974 at age 10. His father raced stock cars.

Gasaway has raced all over the country, sometimes in karts that top speeds of 125 mph. Saturday’s drivers were cruising up to about 65 mph. When you’re mere inches off the ground, drivers say, it can feel even faster.

“It’s addicting,” said Robbie Calhoun, 18. “You get into it and you just want to get better and better.”


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