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Quarter Midget racers kick of season Saturday

SALISBURY — The North Carolina Quarter Midget Association will kick off its 13th season of racing Saturday at its track on Speedway Boulevard, just off the Peach Orchard Road exit of Interstate 85, Exit 72.

The purpose of the Quarter Midget Association is to provide and maintain a clean, safe and healthy sport to be enjoyed by youth ages 5 to 16 and their families.

The association teaches young people to handle mechanical devices, coordination, alertness and the ability to operate these race cars. It also seeks to impress on them the ideals of fairness, generosity, sportsmanship and a sense of responsibility plus the excitement of competition.

The 1/20-mile track in Salisbury was the original inspiration of NASCAR champion Bobby Labonte and members of the N.C. Quarter Midget Association, a nonprofit corporation. The next-closest USAC quarter midget tracks are in Hagerstown, Maryland; the Atlanta area; and Nashville, Tennessee. On some weekends, the young drivers from the Rowan County track travel to races across the Southeast and in Ohio, and they have been successful wherever they race.

There will be 25 local races in Rowan County. They will be held on many Saturdays during the school year, then on Tuesday evenings during the summer. Two weekends of regional and national races will be held in Salisbury, with a Dixie Shootout Series on Labor Day weekend and the Carolina National races on Thanksgiving weekend. On these dates, Rowan will host families from other USAC quarter midget tracks around the nation.

Relatives of members of the NCQMA live throughout the Carolinas as far away as Raleigh and also in Virginia.

This Saturday’s races here start with a driver/handler meeting at 10 a.m. with qualifying shortly after that. About 1 p.m., the competitive racing begins.

There are several classes of racers in each race. Red Rookie is a beginner class, and there is a Word Formula Class. Racers are on the track until about 6 p.m. each weekend.

At the Speedway Boulevard track, the public can watch the young drivers compete. Admission is free.

Many of the stars of NASCAR started their racing careers here in Salisbury and at other quarter-midget tracks. Those include Jeff Gordon, track founder Bobby Labonte and, more recently, Ryan Blaney, driver of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford, who was driving in Salisbury just a couple of years ago.

On March 25, the N.C. Quarter Midget Association will hold its spring Arrive and Drive program. Children as young as 4 1/2 can go to the track and try their hands at quarter-midget racing. They will be fitted with proper safety gear, given training on how to drive the cars and take 15 laps around the track.

For more about quarter midget racing in Rowan County, go to NCQMA.com on the web or NCQMA on Facebook.

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