Being the sentimental weirdo that I am, I can’t help but reflect on the last year and the new experiences for our family. In case you haven’t heard, my son Noah started kart racing last year. Well, he’s been driving go-karts and dirt bikes recreationally ever since he was a toddler. Anything with wheels, Noah has wanted to drive it. Tim and I realized this fascination VERY early on when he was less than a year old. He would play with cars at eye-level, watching carefully how the wheels turned and would line up all his matchbox cars in perfect rows. We had absolutely no idea about the competitive “karting world” or even how to turn his hobby into something more lucrative. We were happily visiting every recreational go-kart track we could and Noah would always win, even in front of the adult drivers!
Fast forward to late 2019 when a Facebook search found me joining karting forums and learning about tracks in our area. We visited Capital City Speedway (literally 10 minutes from our home) and watched the Turkey Trot. This race brings karters from all over the mid-Atlantic and East Coast. The atmosphere was pretty exciting and my first impression left me in awe and utter confusion of all the types of karts and classes. Honestly, it also left me terrified. You see, I’m a worrier (like full-blown horrible anxiety) and with that comes my overly-cautious nature. But I also couldn’t ignore the light and excitement I saw in our son AND my husband. We quickly found a used kart and I started researching the best safety equipment. Everything else started falling into place, including a bunch of new and helpful racing friends and supporters!
Last March, Noah attended his first practice and then COVID hit. Like everything else, race tracks shut down. Eventually, they were able to open with restrictions, and Noah started to race….and race some more. And so much more happened while he was turning laps at the track…
We developed friendships with the most giving people…racing families. The overwhelming majority of racers are KIND and giving of their knowledge and time. Most race families are there for ALL the competitors. Race friends jump in and help without being asked. They cheer for your kid, even when they don’t have their best finish. They help lift your kart off the stand, without being asked. Strangers would approach us and compliment Noah’s runs, then give us helpful information and tire tips. These strangers became regular friendly faces each weekend. Most of Noah’s competitors did the same. The kids fist-bump each other and give pep talks, and REALLY mean it. In between races they hang out together. In today’s world, these things are refreshing and completely unheard of.
Racing has taught Noah the most crazy kind of discipline. You can’t win every race, even if you’re the best driver or run the fastest laps. There’s always an element of luck and happenstance. And placing in the back of the pack, even when you’ve had a good run, is excruciating. But you have to take the good with the bad. But when it’s good, it’s REALLY good, and that’s what keeps you going and coming back!
The most amazing thing is watching Noah grow on and off the track. Even on his off race days or when he flipped his kart, the kid always got back in! I don’t know where he gets the guts to run slick tires on an even slicker track while playing high speed dodge with the other karts. I will never understand it, but I do LOVE watching him and cheering him on! The former cheerleader in me has emerged screaming and yelling in full Matthew Racing apparel, and thanks to my step-dad, a huge #11 tote bag! I come home with dirty hair, a scratchy throat, and even more dirty laundry.
Tim is Noah’s dedicated crew chief. He never stops working on the kart, researching, or learning new things. I’ve always known how mechanically smart Tim was, but it’s truly amazing how he’s picked up this role. Tim is usually pretty shy and quiet, but I’ve seen racing slowly peel that away. He’s made so many new friends and even took a few laps in a friend’s kart at the end of the season. He’s been bitten by the bug and I have no doubt he’ll be on the track himself soon. Lord, save my heart!
Lastly, racing has brought my family together. Some days, we’d have four tents of family and friends supporting us. My parents divorced when I was very young and are happily remarried to my wonderful step-parents. While there’s never been any hostility, I’ve never experienced these people together so much. Seeing them enjoy themselves, share meals, help pitch tents, and laugh together, has been the sweetest WIN every week. Seeing how they love their grandson and have been present for every. single. race. is incredible. I’m so very thankful!
Noah’s rookie year race results:
Did Not Finish x1 due to engine failure
7th place x2
4th place x1
3rd place x2
2nd place x3
1st place x2
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All Photos and Text Copyright 2020 Laura Matthews Photography, LLC
Laura resides in Glen Allen, Virginia. She specializes in portraits of high school seniors, children, and families. Laura serves the Greater Richmond area including Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield. Laura also travels for summer sessions to the eastern part of VA as well as the Outer Banks of North Carolina.