It was a whole different kind of powerhouse at Greeley Stampede Arena on Saturday as the Rockies Neighborhood Midget Association launched its second annual Stampede Shootout.
Reminiscent of NASCAR events, trailers and RVs camped around a track set up in the middle of the parking lot next to the Stampede Arena. Alongside the trailers, small racing cars were propped up on racks, new tires were piled up, and pit crews and racers moved through the area waiting their turn to line up at the start line.
The organization provides racing opportunities for boys and girls ages 5-16 in Denver with weekly regional and national races. No previous racing experience is necessary, and midget quarter racing is the only form of auto racing where a child can start racing on a track at age 5.
Quarter Midget race cars are a “scaled down version of a true midget racer”. The cars are built around a tubular frame and have springs or torsion bars and shock absorbers. The cars’ bodies are made of fiberglass, and a chrome roll cage and nerf bars protect the drivers. The single-cylinder engines produce between 2.5 and 4 horsepower, which really gets racers boggling down the track.
Racers are divided into 15 classes and divisions – Red Rookie, Blue Rookie, Junior Honda, Junior Animal, Senior Honda, Senior Animal, Heavy Honda, Light 160, Heavy 160, Junior Super-stock, Modified, Modified World Formula, Light World Formula and heavy world formula.
Racers can continue their driving hobbies even as they age out of the quarter midget racing class.
“They can go into legend cars and other forms of racing and even go beyond that into NASCAR stuff,” racing parent Kevin Steinke said.
Quarter Midget racing began in Los Angeles, California in the late 1930s and became increasingly popular in the United States and around the world. Quarter Midgets of America is a non-profit organization with more than 2,500 family memberships and approximately 4,000 drivers. There are 13 regions in the organization and 50 midget club quarterbacks across the country.
Midget quarterback racing is definitely a team sport as parents often serve as pit crew, car pushers, race scorekeepers, judges and cheerleaders with siblings stepping in to help work on the cars, transport the cars to the starting lines and help prepare the racers.
“We’re super family oriented and this year we all came together to make it bigger,” parent Jennifer Quintrall said. “I think everyone has really worked together and we’re a cohesive unit.”
Some of the things that parents can expect their children to learn when competing in quarter midget races are respect for peers, healthy competition, and focus.
“They have to have respect both on and off the track. They are friends when they are in the pits and then they go to the track and they have that competitive aspect,” Quintrall explained. “Running really instills that in kids.”
Although primarily based in Dacono and serving the Denver metro area, the Rocky Mountain Quarter Midget Association strives to bring the sport to Northern Colorado and Wyoming. In addition to hosting a variety of races, the association offered kids and parents the opportunity to “arrive and drive” a car to learn about quarter-midget racing.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount of recruiting in Denver, but people who live in downtown Denver don’t relate to these cars like people in more rural areas like Greeley, Fort Collins and Cheyenne,” Steinke said. “You have to have people who aren’t afraid to get their hands on an engine. You show up here (northern Colorado) and they’re excited and know how to work on these cars.
“So we’re really trying to build our presence in northern Colorado, because we think that’s where our membership base will come from.”
In addition to expanding its membership base in northern Colorado, association board members hope to turn its Stampede Shootout event into a national qualifying event, Steinke said.
“That’s when you’ll see 300 to 400 cars coming out to race,” Steinke said. “This time we have people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and California, so that’s a start.”
Parents and children who want to learn more about the Rocky Mountain Quarter Midget Association can view upcoming running events, club information and more on their website at www.rmqma.com.