The International Karting Federation’s Division 6 Gold Cup Series makes its only Inland Empire stop this season at the Spokane Kart Racing Association’s course on the grounds of the Spokane County ORV Park and one Mt. View Elementary School sixth-grader is glad the series is in her backyard for one weekend.
Nicole Behar, whose father Mike is a past Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion, leads the Jr. II Animal Light and Heavy classes and looks to pick up a win on her home track over the course of two days of racing.
She’ll have plenty of support in the grandstands to cheer on an effort to win titles in two classes.
“I’m looking forward to racing here at home and I know there will be lots of family out to watch this Gold Cup race, for sure,” Behar said.
Traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest to move atop the points standings in her divisions takes a lot of hard work and preparation to be competitive, Behar said.
“Leading two different classes takes consistency, good equipment, a good crew chief like my dad and the ability to adapt to tracks quickly,” she said. “Having my mom (Stacey) and Dad, who were past go-kart champions, teach me a lot has really helped this year as well.”
Hometown competition in the form of Colton Schultz, another driver whose father, Rick, has had tremendous success in late models, stands in Behar’s way this weekend. In the end it’s the family spirit that makes the competition with the younger Schultz and others that attracted the Behar’s to the sport, Nicole said.
Like Schultz, Mike Behar has given up driving late models temporarily to support his child’s karting efforts and Nicole is grateful for the decision.
“I think having my dad as my kart tuner and engine builder is great because he is very good at what he does,” she said. “Dad does all the work to get the kart ready each week, then I’ll go out and run some hot laps, we’ll talk and he’ll get some work done while hanging out with friends at the race track. I know he enjoys doing all the work, so this has been great to have the kind of season we’re on.”
While this weekend’s event is a daytime race, some tracks have the ability to run races at night. For Behar, that has served as her favorite memory of the 2009 season.
“We had a blast running in Tri-Cities under the lights and really look forward to running there again,” she said.
Closing out the season with two championships is the goal, but a bright future lies ahead for the former dirt kart racer. Once this season is completed, moving up to a bigger race car and track may lead to Behar’s ultimate goal of being a NASCAR driver.
“I’m going to start racing Legend cars next year and we’ll run that for a few years until I am old enough and ready to start running the bigger cars,” she said. “I would really like to be a NASCAR racer some day, so I’m hoping this will be a good step toward that.”
Racing doesn’t consume Behar’s life. The driver of the Custom Welding Italkart is also involved in band and school sports when she’s not behind the wheel of the go-kart.
Behar is not the only local driver leading an IKF Division 6 class heading into the home race. Robbie Calhoun from Mead is atop the World Formula Heavy class standings and will be out to grab the hardware this weekend over the likes of Bryan Green, Scott Barlee and Austin Moon.
Grandstand admission to the IKF Division 6 Gold Cup at Spokane Kart Racing Association’s facility is free. Racing begins Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. For more information log onto www.spokanekarting.org
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