The checkered flag will once again be waiving at Worden Park this Saturday.

The checkered flag will once again be waiving at Worden Park this Saturday.

Some of NASCAR's biggest stars started on go-kart dirt tracks, just like our very own little oval.

The Wheatland Karting Association is hosting another competitive go-kart season, racing on a new clay track provided by the City of Wellington.

Racers as young as five will be drifting, fighting for position, getting dirty and having fun.

Besides the novice class, touring professionals will be racing the newly-designed track throughout the summer.

"Professions do it all-year-round, all over the country," said Wheatland Karting Association President Jeff Coykendall. "We also have racers that are strictly locals, a good mixture of both."

Coykendall's daughter has been racing since kindergarten, starting out on a power wheel – a little electric jeep. Today she's fourteen and is still at it, she's just driving something a little bigger.

"The ten-year-olds and up are reaching speeds close to 50 miles-per-hour," said Coykendall.

To start winning races, you need a trustworthy team.

"It's a team sport. Mom and dad need to learn how to work on the engine."

But more important than speed, safety is the key.

"When my daughter comes off the track, she's sweating from head to toe. Also, the g-forces can be hard on the body. You think it's just a little go-kart, but it's very physical. The little ones have rib and chest protectors."

Coykendall points out the skills a youngster can learn from racing.

"Hand-eye coordination to depth perception," a driver learns the basics and beyond given the right tools and providing they put in the time.

But this isn't just kids' stuff.

A former series point champion, who wishes to remain anonymous – let's call him Driver X, recounts the dangers of the sport.

"Accidents happen – like any other form of racing. At the Nationals in Winfield, there were about 40 carts racing, a teenage girl was stuck racing in the middle."

Then, tragedy ensued.

"Her tires touched another racer's. She just helicoptered in the air and landed upside down. Seconds later, she popped right up. She was fine, but it was close."

What ultimately ended Driver X's career was the money it takes to race competitively.

"The guy with the biggest bank account wins. You don't have to get new tires for every race, but if you want to run out front, you have to."

The highlight of this season is The Go-Kart Tour, a two-day event held on Labor Day. More than 700 entries, including drivers from Tennessee to Minnesota are expected to be racing at Worden Park.

"We want to really promote the track this year. We're always looking for new racers, new fans. It's something unique. We have eight new rookies starting this year," said Coykendall.

Two factors seem to be pointing to an increase in racing in Wellington.

"Racing is economy driven. If the economy picks up, we generally have more racers. Also, with the Winfield track not operating this year, Wellington is it," said Coykendall.

Even if you aren't planning on becoming a professional driver anytime soon, come out this Saturday and give these racers a peek.

With several different racing classes, a full night of hard-nosed, action-packed racing is guaranteed. Races start at 4 p.m. and should conclude around 10. The races are free to the public, but 10-dollar tickets are available to experience a first-hand racing experience, meeting with the racers in the pit area.

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