One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Mac-O-Chee Quarter Midget Racing Association is “How do we get started racing quarter midgets?” It’s true that if you don’t know someone that’s already in the quarter midget world, it can be confusing where to even begin. Hopefully the following suggestions and steps can help to guide you down the path of deciding if quarter midget racing is right for your child and your family.
The first step is to come watch us race and see what quarter midgets are all about. The best part: this step is free! There is never a charge to come watch races at Mac-O-Chee QMRA, and there’s no tickets to buy. Just show up at the track on race day and have fun! The race families are almost always willing to stop and talk to people interested in getting into the sport, so be sure to walk around and say hi. And while you’re there, ask around who the Club President or Rookie Director is. They are the people that you’re going to want to meet and exchange information with so that they can help you with the next step.
Most quarter midget clubs, including Mac-O-Chee, hold events called “Arrive and Drives” where your child can drive a real quarter midget on the track to see if it’s something they like. Remember when we said to make sure you meet the Club President or Rookie Director? That’s because these are the people that will be able to schedule a time to meet you at the track for your Arrive and Drive session. Once you are there, we will spend some one-on-one time with you and your child going over safety equipment, the car, and answering any-and-all questions you may have. By the end of the day, we will have your child strapped into one of our club’s cars with all the gear they need and let them take the track. Don’t worry, we restrict the speed of the car so they can’t go too fast, and they’ll be given lots of instruction on how to safely operate it. This is not a required step, as you do not have to participate in an Arrive and Drive to start quarter midget racing, but it is a great way to get a feel for if your child is truly interested. If he or she still wants to learn how to race, you’re ready for the next step.
If after the Arrive and Drive your child is ready to move forward, then we have some paperwork to take care of before he or she can start their rookie training. Throughout their quarter midget career, you must be members of two organizations. The first is USAC, or the United States Auto Club. USAC is one of the sanctioning bodies for quarter midget racing, and membership is required to be part of the Mac-O-Chee club. This membership is renewed annually, and you can sign up and pay your dues under the membership tab on our website. Once you’re a USAC member, every race family must declare a “home track” that they are members of, which brings us to the second membership that you must obtain; your Mac-O-Chee QMRA membership. After becoming a club member, you will receive access to the track gates so you can practice, and you will have the ability to vote on club issues. Plus, you’ll be able to participate at any USAC sanctioned race in the country! The club’s application for membership can be obtained from any club member or under the membership tab on our website. Once completed, just return the application with the club fees and you’re all set! Now, it’s time to make a couple decisions . . .
Like most kid’s sports, there is an upfront cost to get them started with everything they need to go racing. For example, you’ll need to purchase all of their personal protective equipment such as a racing helmet, race suit, gloves, neck restraint, etc. All of that can be obtained for a few hundred dollars, or less if you find some used gear for sale. The biggest upfront cost you’re going to encounter is, obviously, the race car itself. Now, I know what you’re thinking . . . “I’m not ready to spend the money on a race car yet when little Johnny or Jill has never even been in a race! What if they’re scared and don’t like it?!” Believe us, we’ve all been there, and we can help. Mac-O-Chee has a unique program we like to call the “Drive for 5.” With this program, you can actually use one of our club-owned cars to start your child’s rookie training, AND you can race it for up to five races to see if quarter midget racing is something your driver enjoys and wants to stick with. We’ll even set the car up for your driver’s comfort, keep it at the track, and have it ready for you for race day. You will still have to purchase adequate safety equipment that fits your driver, but this way you don’t have to invest into purchasing a car, trailer, and other items until you’re sure racing is a good fit for your family. How much does this program cost, you might ask? Well, let’s be honest, accidents do happen in racing and sometimes cars get damaged. If this does happen, we do ask that you help purchase replacement parts if they are needed. But otherwise, the Drive for 5 is FREE! The other option is that if after your Arrive and Drive, you are confident that your child is committed and wants to race, then maybe you’re ready to go ahead and purchase your very own quarter midget. Well, we can help you there too. There are many options available to you as far as different manufactures, car sizes, and budgets. Our members are always willing to help new families get started, so if you need help scowering the Internet for something that meets your needs, we can help you find what you’re looking for. In fact, maybe one of our members even has something for sale that you might be interested in. So now we have a car, and we have a driver. All we need to do now is turn them into a RACER!
Whether you have your own quarter midget or are using one of ours, all new quarter midget drivers must participate in a rookie training program and must receive the approval of the club’s Rookie Director before they can hit the track with other cars in a race. The first step of this rookie training is for the driver and handler to meet up with their designated instructor at the track for a practice day. During this practice session we will go over things like:
Some other things that we’ll talk about in your rookie training are some basic rules of racing, running a good/consistent line, and proper passing etiquette. Make no mistake, rookie training isn’t just for the drivers; it’s just as much for the handlers to learn their responsibilities at the races too like getting the driver strapped in, getting them through tech procedures, and jobs you can do around the race track.
The short answer is . . . it depends. Quarter midget racing is for kids ages 5-16, and again, every new driver must complete rookie training regardless of their age. Needless to say, a 13-year-old rookie is likely going to grasp the concepts much quicker than a 5-year-old. And that’s ok. Some driver’s might be ready to race after 1-2 training sessions. Others will take several more than that. Rookie training is certainly one part of racing that is not about going FAST, but rather making sure that every kid has a comfort level in their own abilities so their first race is an enjoyable experience. That is how we turn something that can be a little intimidating for kids at first into an activity that they can’t wait to do again.
So, you’ve got a quarter midget to drive, a driver that’s nervously confident, and a free weekend. The only thing left to do is RACE! After you get the thumbs-up from our Rookie Director, your child can participate in their first quarter midget race at Mac-O-Chee QMRA. You’ll show up on race day and find some people that are now familiar faces who will help you find a spot to set up as your “pit area,” and continue to answer any questions that you’ve inevitably been thinking about. All new drivers (again, regardless of age) must run their first race in what is called the “Red Rookie” class. In this class, the engines are heavily restricted, the speeds relatively slow compared to the other classes, and the number of cars on the track at one time kept small. This is perfect for your driver to get out there and show what all they have learned while FINALLY getting to race with other cars. Even though they will have tons of fun competing on the track, the best competition of the day will be whose smile is bigger at the end of the race…theirs or yours! And just like that, you’ve started your family’s quarter midget career. Hopefully this has been a helpful read for anyone interested in getting started in racing, and we encourage you to enjoy the journey, because it doesn’t last nearly long enough. We’ll see you at the track!
Below is a narrative that has been borrowed from social media that may give some insight as to what you may experience as a quarter midget racing family:
If you give your child a quarter midget, they will want to race. You’ll buy them the best car you can find, followed by a suit, helmet, gloves, neck brace and shoes.
You look for local tracks to race at on weekends, where you start to socialize with the quarter midget community…………And then life as you know it, will end.
Before you know it, they want to RACE so you find a CLUB…..There will be no more lazy weekends watching tv. You will see more sunrises than you ever thought possible.
Every spare minute of your time will be spent hauling campers, caravans and quarter midgets and enduring a crazy addiction to practice for the race.
Your house may be a mess, and your car will be dirty. All because you gave your child a quarter midget. Your weekends will be spent freezing or burning to death on a fold up chair. And their weekends will be spent gaining confidence and friends, learning new skills and having fun and getting dirty!!!!
You will be there the day he or she makes their first heat win, first top 3, first feature win. And they will make you SO proud. Other parents will congratulate you, but you feel weird saying thank you because it's not you on the track, it’s your child. It's everything that they did, they achieved. And right before your eyes, your little boy/girl will be transformed from the rookie who spun around or was all over the track into an experienced driver that was smooth and could run a good line.
When you give your child a quarter midget, you give them more than just something to drive. You give them a sport, a talent, hope and dreams. Friends, a new family, a place to learn about life, room to grow as a person where they can push their limits, and bravery, and courage, and memories. And they will have ALL of these things, simply because you gave your child a quarter midget.
Because you gave your child a quarter midget, you too will develop new/lifelong friendships, developed solely from the same passion for the sport. You will have a quarter midget family because you gave your child a quarter midget.
Then one day, many years from today…they will be in their room and a certain trophy will catch their eye. And they will pick it up and realize instantly that when you gave your child a quarter midget, you also gave them a childhood that they would never forget, at this point, you realize that everything you gave up along the way and sacrificed was totally worth it . . .
All because you gave your child a quarter midget. - Author Unknown