Andrea Whalen was in Huntsville, Alabama this past weekend for her two kids’ quarter midget races. The drivers are young and still gaining experience, and the cars are smaller and less sturdy, so mechanical issues are common. But Whalen loves what happens when a kid’s car hits a mechanical snag on the track.
Two other families joined the Whalens in Huntsville to race. Their kids competed in the same class, but when a car broke down, all the families converged to try to solve the problem.
“We’re all there to help and support each other,” Whalen said, “even if we’re competing against each other.”
That tight-knit community atmosphere is what has drawn Whalen’s family to Forsyth County’s own quarter midget racing scene with the North Georgia Quarter Midget Association, which begins its summer racing series Saturday, June 2, at Bill Thomas Raceway in the Cumming Fairgrounds.
Whalen is secretary for the association, and she considers the local racing association to be perhaps the county’s best family-friendly event that nobody knows about. Indeed, she’ll often mention her family’s participation in the races at the Fairgrounds and get quizzical responses.
“A lot of people don’t know the track is (at the Fairgrounds),” Whalen said. “They’re like, ‘Well, where?’ I’m like, ‘That awesome little track tucked in the corner.’”
It’s there. Has been since 1995, and it hosts a regular racing series for drivers ages 5 to 16 from late February through November. Now the summer series gets added with five Saturday races — June 2, June 23, July 14, July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18 — that start at 5 p.m. and are free for the public to watch.
Whalen said the series is geared toward families. A concession stand sells hot dogs, drinks and candy. There will be theme nights, like a glow party.
And the action on the track can be intense.
“These kids are no-holds-barred,” Whalen said. “They want to win. There are crashes just like there are in any other type of racing. It’s really exciting to watch.”
Whalen said the association is making a push for more involvement as membership has waned recently, so the first summer series race June 2 will be proceeded by an arrive-and-drive event to introduce kids to driving quarter midgets. For $10, kids can get suited up and drive a car for 10 minutes with the association’s staff present to supervise.
The association hopes the promotion leads to new drivers participating, which would lead to more families around the track, fueling the atmosphere that, for Whalen, makes quarter midget racing so unique.
“There’s no other sport that we can think of that is so family-oriented,” Whalen said.