|Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield|
|Cassidy Brooks, 6, of Reynoldsburg, is enjoying her rookie year as a race car driver.|
While her first grade classmates at Herbert Mills Elementary spend the summer playing little league, Cassidy Brooks races cars.
The Reynoldsburg six-year-old has several races under her belt as a rookie in the Buckeye Quarter Midget Racing Association and has aspirations to turn professional like her Indy Car hero Danica Patrick.
Unlike go-karts in which Patrick honed her skills, midget racers feature a roll-bar frame. Quarter cars, like Cassidy’s, are one fourth the size of midget cars that adults race.
Cassidy’s career marks the third generation of Brooks racing. Her father, Raymond Brooks II, competed on dirt tracks and drag strips. Her grandfather, Raymond Brooks, held national and international hot rod records in the 1970s.
The junior Raymond said that he had missed "not going (to races), but not now that I have got Cassy."
Papa Raymond believes Cassidy has potential to become a talented driver if racing continues to be fun for her.
"The (sport) is for the kids – we had our day," her father said. "So far she has never had a spin-out and she has been hit hard. She’s got good car control and she’s nervy."
Patrick’s success on the Indy circuit has encouraged many girls to climb behind the wheel.
"It’s not a sport determined by how strong you are," Raymond said. "Once you learn the feel of the car and have the desire to win, you will want to be out front."
An adult pushes the car to start it. The only controls are the steering wheel, "the go pedal and the stop," Cassidy’s dad explained.
Although many of the drivers come from racing lineages, no experience is necessary for parents of would-be drivers.
Raymond said the experienced parents and grandparents help the newbies by providing advice and helping make car adjustments.
The sport is also relatively safe, the national Web site, quartermidget.org, claims that it incurs "fewer injuries than little league football."
The children wear fireproof suits, helmets, harness-style seat belts, and their arms are tethered to the steering column.
Cassidy warns, "It is stinky in my helmet."
A downside to the sport is the cost. The Brooks hope to find sponsors to help with the more than $10,000 they will invest in Cassidy’s car this year. Tires alone cost $430.
For information on Buckeye Quarter Midget racing visit their Web site at BQMRA.com.