Riley Taché, 10, has always had a fascination with cars.
“As soon as he could talk, he was talking about cars,” Riley’s mother, Mindy Taché, said. “I have a funny photo of him when he was about two – we were at the grocery store and he grabbed a car magazine and drove off. He loves anything that moves.”
Riley, a student at Kenbrook Elementary in the Farmington Public Schools District, owns a quarter-race midget car that he races for the Michigan Motorsports Racing Association. The group holds its races at the Waterford Hills Road Racing track in Waterford.
“I want to be a NASCAR driver one day,” Riley said. “I think it would be fun to drive around the country and do these races that last two or three hours.”
Quarter midget cars – about a quarter the size of a full-size midget racer – are a way for kids to get into car racing. Mindy said the controls of Riley’s car are similar to those of a go-kart, but her car has more built-in safety features compared to a typical go-kart.
This summer, the Farmington Hills lad hopes to win a few races, break a speed record and move up from the Rookie class to the Senior Honda class. In Michigan, the racing season begins in April and ends in October.
Driving his toy car at 35mph was scary at first – Mindy says it’s also intense to watch – and Riley thinks her sport requires a healthy dose of bravery. His favorite part of the sport is the race day atmosphere, including the competition, concessions, time with friends and watching other events.
“I think it’s just to be brave and do it,” he said. “You can go up to 35 miles an hour, and it’s a little scary at first. You’re going really fast on a very small track with six other cars.”
As in any motorsport, accidents are part of the deal. Riders must be agile enough to avoid driving into an accident.
“The most important thing for him, I think, is quick reflexes,” Mindy said. “If someone crashes in front of him, he has to dive clear.”
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Although Riley brings the driving skills, he said his father, Oscar Taché, plays a major role in any success he has. Oscar reassembled and repaired the car that Riley drives while serving as his crew chief.
“I feel like some people are praising the pilot too much,” Riley said. “I think a lot of those kudos should go to the person who actually built the car. So that would be my dad.”
According to Mindy, Michigan Motorsports fosters a family environment and many people go out of their way to help others. When Oscar was unable to attend races due to commitments for Taché’s youngest son, other relatives helped Riley start his car or make repairs after an accident.
(Riley has) met a bunch of new friends,” Mindy said. “Everyone is very involved – it’s a very family sport. We met a lot of really nice families.”
Contact reporter Shelby Tankersley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-305-0448. Follow her on Twitter @shelby_tankk.