The Terre Haute track used by the Terre Haute Quarter Midget Association.
By MEG GREY
Quarter Midget racing, the best kept secret in sports, is taking Terre Haute by storm. So are the Clay County kids involved in it, 8-year-old Brett Yocom, son of Anthony and Robin Yocom and 10-year-old Nate McMillin, son of Angie and Kenny McMillin.
A Quarter Midget car is the bite-sized version of a midget racer, exactly 1/4 scale. The racer is constructed around a tubular frame and fully suspended with springs or torsion bars and shocks. The bodies are made of fiberglass and painted to the drivers liking. The driver is surrounded by a chrome-moly roll cage and Nerf bars. A single cylinder engine producing between 2.5-and 4-horse power commands the car. Races are run on a 1/20 of a mile oval track.
The McMillins started their love affair with the Quarter Midgets Association of America while they were dating because they both loved racing and it was free entertainment. The Yocoms first learned of the QMA through Anthony's brother-in-law, Dan Wallace who used to race Quarter midgets in the 80s. Anthony, a former drag racer, decided Brett would race because it would be a good learning experience that could lead into other things and he could do it for the rest of his life. Racing is a family affair because Dan's two children, Bradly and Danni both race.
Dan said, "I am tickled to death to share racing with my kids as my father did with me."
There are 14 classes and divisions of racing with ages running from 5 to 16. Quarter midget drivers may move on to Junior Half midgets which are driven by 12-17 year olds. Yocom has been racing for 4 1/2 years and started out racing Jr. Honda and now races Heavy Honda. McMillin has been racing for 5 years and participates in Sr. Honda and Light 160. The season begins in April and ends in October with races being run weekly in addition to local Regional races, one State Championship race for each region, and Three Grand National Events for the no-nonsense contenders with two asphalt tracks and one dirt track race.
The QMA states their purpose as creating and maintaining a clean, safe and healthy sport for the whole family to enjoy. The association also promotes impressing upon the younger generation the ideas of fairness, good sportsmanship, a sense of responsibility, generosity without envy of others and to acquaint the younger generation with the handling of mechanical devices, alertness, coordination, and the ability to handle motor-driven vehicles. All good traits that they can carry with them through out their teen and adult years. The youngsters agree. Nate says that racing has taught him how to be patient because if he isn't he'll be moved to the back of the pack.
Brett says, "Racing has taught me how to be a good winner and a good loser."
The children agree on another thing, that winning is their favorite part of racing. Nate says, "I like winning to impress my mom and dad."
Brett says that the best thing about winning is taking the trophy home and carrying the checkered flag on the last lap.
The parents also benefit from their children's participation by making friends and watching their child develop. Robin says, "It is very rewarding to see them develop as a driver and learn a lot of mental and physical skills."
Unlike most sports that allow parents to leave their kids while only the kids participate, the sport is family-oriented allowing all family members to join the fun. While the kids drive the rest of the family acts as members of the pit crew, or chief mechanics, scorers, timekeepers or they are behind the counter of the concessions stand or novelty booths. That statement has been proven true in the Clay County parents alone. Anthony is the Vice President of the Terre Haute club and acts as race director, Robin is in charge of trophies, works in the tower and help keeps score, Angie works in the tower, Kenny is a member of the board of directors and maintains the track and Dan flags.
The association is a non-profit organization with 4,000 drivers and 2,500 family memberships Thirteen Regions and 50 nationwide clubs participate in the organization.
The Dirt Grand National Race is currently running at the Quarter Midget track in Terre Haute today and this weekend with a car count of 461. The association will be racing in exhibition during the upcoming Popcorn Festival.