ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Carter Nilson has proven that, while he's small, he's a force to be reckoned with on the go-kart track.
His plan for the near future: "Just keep doing it fast."
Most of what he's been doing is winning. Last year, Carter became the youngest to ever win a feature race in the 9-12-year-old division at Leetzow Raceway Park in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, dominating at 6 years old. The Christian Life School kindergartner went on to win his second Kid Kart Division title in a row in the 6-8 class, and now he's ready to move up and race older kids again.
"It just came natural to him, right away," his father Kris Nilson said. Kris won back-to-back National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway in 2010 and 2011. "And once we saw how much he loved it, we were all in."
Carter's late grandfather Dave Ebrecht raced at Rockford Speedway for two decades and his mom Megan also raced there in the '90s. Now it's Carter's turn.
"I just like everything about it," Carter said. "And I love going out and beating the bigger kids."
He will move up to the Junior 1 Division full time this season, and while that class is typically for 9-12 year olds, everyone is confident that Carter is ready.
"They all know that he's worked his way from a young age, and he's ready," Megan said. "We're a racing family, and we can see it, too."
Carter rides two different kinds of karts, using his dirt setup in Fort Atkinson while running an asphalt ride for practice runs at the Sugar River Raceway in Brodhead, Wisconsin. That happens to be the same track that Danica Patrick got her go-kart start, at right around the same age as Carter.
"Sure, a lot of people start with go karts," Carter said with a smile. "Just like me. And I'm going to race cars someday."
With the karts in Carter's division reaching speeds upward of 65 mph, Megan and Kris admitted to being nervous sometimes. But they are confident in his skills, already, and they are trying to work him into it slowly — despite his quickly accelerating career.
"He was running practice laps at the Rockford Speedway when he was 3, and he's just loved it from the beginning," Kris said. "We get nervous, sure. He's had about three crashes, and they were scary. We understand the risk. But he loves it, and he can learn a lot from it. We'll just see how long he wants to do it, and go from there."
The new season at Leetzow begins April 30, and Carter will take part in some select races at other tracks as well.
Source: Rockford Register Star, http://bit.ly/2oKDFZ3
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com