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Local driver is all about racing
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Eli Bennett tries to hold off another driver during a practice session for the 2013 Eastern Grands at the Cumming Fairgrounds. - photo by John McWilliams

Eli Bennett’s bedroom mirrors what he loves most — racing.

The 8-year-old boy from Dawsonville hoped his racing-themed bedroom might give him luck on Monday in one of the biggest events of the year, the 2013 Eastern Grands Quarter Midgets of America at the Cumming Fairgrounds.

"Every bit of [his bedroom] is all racing," his father, Russ Bennett said. "All his trophies [are in there]; he’s got a showcase in there, so that’s what it’s all about, just racing.

"He loves it; this is all he thinks about. He’s really excited about the Grands this weekend being a big race, still a little bit nervous, but he’s excited to be here."

Bennett had only competed in seven races prior to Monday, and the Eastern Grands marked his first event of the year.

"It’s a big race and there are going to be more cars than usual," Eli said.

Bennett said he dreams of becoming a NASCAR driver and wants to race like Tony Stewart, his favorite driver. He channeled his inner Stewart in the Junior Novice division with a third-place finish in his No. 40 red and blue colored Stanley race car, exceeding expectations.

"[Stewart’s] car is red and one of my favorite colors is red and one of my colors on my car is red," Eli Bennett said.

Added Russ Bennett: "We would just be happy to come out of here with a finish. There are some really good cars here from other clubs and other associations that are visiting us here, so we’d just like to finish."

When Eli is not out on the race track, he likes to spend time relaxing with his family.

"I like to play and hang out with my family," he said. "We got out to eat or cook and play games. [My favorite] is Uno."

Russ grew up around the sport and hopes his son will pick up where he left off.

"I started racing go-karts when I was 5 and then I moved on to stock cars when I got to be 16," Russ said. "I raced until about 10 years ago and now we’ve decided to get into Quarter Midget racing and give him a shot. He really likes racing; time to step it down a generation."