Big Thrills from a Mini Car - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Big Thrills from a Mini Car

July 4, 2006

Albany -- The Albany Motor Speedway has been quiet for over a year, but will roar to life this weekend for the first race of the season.

The track has had a major facelift, and the owners were downtown Tuesday afternoon at the Fourth of July festival to display some of the cars that'll be burning up the asphalt this summer.

Albany Motor Speedway will feature eleven different classifications of cars in its first race of the year Saturday.

Track owner Robert Witte says, "We're real excited. This will be our first major race. We are committed to making this a family event."

The Mini-Cup cars on display today are very similar to the ones driven on the Nextel Cup circuit.

Big names drivers like Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Kurt Busch have spent time behind the wheel of a Mini-Cup car.

Witte says,"The Mini-Cup car is a half-scale Nextel Cup car. The are modeled and designed directly after the full-blown Nextel Cup cars you see running every Sunday. It is a race car. It's not a toy by any means."

Witte's son Chris drives one of the cars.

"They're designed exactly like NASCAR," says Chris, "so if you hit the wall it'll fold up and absorb the shock. It also has big seat belts and roll bars."

The Mini-Cup series has two age bracket: from 8 to 15, and 15 and up, and is a relatively inexpensive way to break into racing.

"One of these car will run you between $8500 to $8900 race ready. And we do finance these cars," adds Robert Witte.

His son became the 2006 Winter Nationals Grand Champion in his first race of the series, and the thirteen year old is accelerating around the track at top-speed.

Chris says, "It's got a Honda one-cylinder engine in the back with 17 horsepower, but it goes 105 miles per hour."

And what's the fastest speed Chris has driven the car?

"Maybe 95," he said with a smile. "It's awesome."

Gates open at 2pm Saturday at Albany Motor Spedway, with the main event beginning at six.

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