Start Your Engines!
This page: Scholastic Kid Reporter Nathan Kahn interviews Danica Patrick.
(Photo: Genet Berhane)
Home page: Drivers in the Indy 500 starting lineup on the flight deck of the Intrepid.
(Photo: Genet Berhane)
Scholastic Kids Press Corps
Wednesday, May 24It was a beautiful day at Pier 17 in New York City's South Street Seaport. The pier was the site of the TripRewards Kart Challengea 10-lap race in which four young go-cart drivers (ages 7-14) face off to see who is the fastest. The drivers were competing for one million points, awarded by Cendant Hotel Group's TripRewards program.
"It's about time New York City hosted a go-cart race," said NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, grand marshal and host of the challenge. "This is a great way for New Yorkers to experienceup close and in personthe excitement of go-cart racing."
When I arrived at the track, I immediately spotted Wallace and the day's young driversSantino Ferrucci, Sage Karam, Tyler Davidson, and Corey Lewis. I got right to work, and sat down to talk with them.
Eleven-year-old Sage Karam told me that his favorite thing about racing is the speeding competition, because it is challenging and fun. I wondered if the other drivers felt the same way, so I asked 14-year-old Corey Lewis to tell me what he liked best about racing.
"Probably the speed and the competition," he said. "It's difficult at times, but it's a lot of fun."
At age 7, Santino Ferrucci was the youngest driver on the track. I asked him what he liked best about racing.
"My favorite thing about racing," he said, "is [learning] how the cars work."
My last interview before the race began was with none other than the legend himselfRusty Wallace. Before retiring from NASCAR racing, Wallace had 55 victories. Wallace described how he followed in his father's footsteps, beginning his driving career with an old car his dad had wrecked.
Wallace believes that future young racers "really need to understand the racing carwhat makes it run fast, what makes it handle real good . . . I would tell them if they want to succeed in racing, they've gotta be serious about it and willing to work hard."
The flag dropped and Wallace started the race by driving the first ceremonial lap around the track, followed by the other drivers. Santino Ferrucci started at the front of the group and it quickly became clear that he wasn't going to give up his position. He stayed in the lead, as Sage Karam and Tyler Davidson battled for second place. Trailing them was Corey Lewis, whose cart seemed to be having problems from the start of the race. In the end, Santino won the race, and the prize of one million points. Coming in second was Tyler Davison, third place was Sage Karam, and in fourth, Corey Lewis.
It was a great day for a race, and I'm excited that I got to be there for all the action.
By Nathan Kahn
Scholastic Kids Press Corps
May 26, 2006Sunday is race day at the 90th Indianapolis 500. To celebrate one of the greatest events in racing, the drivers in the Indy 500 starting lineup paid a visit to New York City. I caught up with them at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, a retired naval ship docked at the Hudson River. I got to check out the ship and talk to some of racing's biggest stars this week.
The day began aboard the flight deck of the Intrepid. Photographers moved back and forth on the deck, trying to keep warm as the wind blew cold air across the river. Finally, the 33 driversdressed in race-day gearwalked across the ship and lined up in 11 rows of three.
The Borg-Warner trophy, a three-piece trophy with the faces of all of the past Indy 500 winners, was positioned in front of the rows. All around me, cameras snapped pictures as photographers shouted to get the attention of different drivers.
From there, members of the press headed down into the ship for a luncheon and a chance to talk with the drivers. I found a spot in the "bull pen" (the area for electronic media reporters), and talked with a few Indy drivers.
I asked Tomas Scheckter (No. 2) if he had ever driven in New York City.
"I've been driven around in New York, in a taxi," he said, laughing. "Those guys could be race drivers."
Several drivers talked about their favorite part of racing. For some, it's about the speed. Others love the fans. According to Tony Kanaan, No. 11, there's one thing everyone agrees on.
"If you ask any driver, I think they would say winning is our favorite part," he said.
I also got to talk with Danica Patrick (No. 16T), one of the most influential drivers in motor sports. I asked her what kind of advice she had for her younger fans.
"I think you need to love what you're doing. You need to love playing basketball, or you need to love racing, or you need to love a courtroom," she said. "Whatever it is that you want, you need to love it. Then, you'll follow through, and you'll go all the way."
The Intrepid and the Indy 500
I've always enjoyed visiting the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. It's a retired Navy transport, now used as a museum that traces the history of air, sea, and space travel.
This weekend is a big one for the Intrepid. It's Fleet Week, the time of year when Navy and Coast Guard ships (and ships from around the world) visit New York for a week. The Intrepid is the site of all kinds of Fleet Week events over the next few days.
The Indianapolis 500 is the biggest event of the IndyCar series, named after its flagship race. Drivers race in cars with open wheels. This Sunday marks the 90th Indy 500, when racing fans will listen for the famous words that have kicked off the race since the 1950s:
"Start your engines!"
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