Meet the cool pocket rocket
ROCKETING at 97kmh around a race track is probably a bit daunting for the typical 12-year-old. But Emerald Karting Club driver Lewis Herwin takes it all in his stride.
"It's pretty cool," Lewis offers.
The St Patrick's school student has been racing for five years but only now has he had the chance to race on his home track. He was one of many suiting up for the first competition run at the new Central Highlands motorsport facility.
With helmet under arm, awaiting his first race of the day, Lewis rattles off his kart specifications like a seasoned professional.
"It's a Monaco 100cc Australian chassis, 28mm chrome, weighs 105kg and has about 8.6 horse power, " Lewis pumps out in a heartbeat.
Then suddenly his race is piped through the loudspeaker: "All rookies to the starting grid," comes the announcement.
Dad hurries over, anxious to get him there on time, but Lewis digs in the heels, determined to finish the interview.
Racing just about every weekend, Lewis says he misses a lot of school assignments but does try to catch up wherever he can.
"We went to Victoria for six days last year and I missed a lot then," he confesses.
This year he is aiming for a top-10 finish at the Closed State Titles, a feat he admits will be tough but not unattainable.
It is a bleak and blustery day on track and Lewis demonstrates how he plans to tuck in the elbows for better aerodynamics in the windy conditions.
But dad's advice is a little more to the point.
"Dad says 'just drive the thing'."
Super fast track excites fans
MANY in the local karting fraternity knew the Central Highlands motorsport track was fast, but exactly how fast they couldn't quite be sure.
That was until now, with kart drivers turning out for the official club meet at weekend to be recorded by a cutting edge, lap timing system.
"There's an equivalent track in Ipswich with the same length, and last weekend's open water cooled class were (racing) four to five seconds a lap quicker than down there," Emerald Karting Club president Dean Davies said.
"It just goes to show it's super fast."
The Emerald meet attracted more than 500 spectators and about 44 racing nominations, with the restricted 125cc class proving the most popular. It was an all local affair on the winner's podium as well, with a Blackwater driver taking out top honours in the class.
"It's probably one of our biggest fields... most are new to karting and have only been racing for four to five months," Davies said.
While the club welcomed plenty of beginners' participation on track, a few of the more experienced were also on hand to test out the new facilities.
"We had one who was on his way to race at the national titles in Darwin," he said.
"He stopped off and did some racing with us. He said it was 'very impressive'."
The Emerald club plans to stage race meetings at least once a month for licensed kart drivers, with the next one set down for Sunday, July 22.
"We think having it on a Sunday instead will probably suit people in the community better with other commitments," Davies said.