BY RICHARD G. BIEVER
Bryce King is growing up fast.
The second grader at Kouts Elementary likes his Hot Wheels cars and remote-control race cars. But his need for speed puts him behind the wheel of scaled-down race cars traveling at 50, even 60, miles per hour.
“He’s all about fast,” said his dad, Chris King, who also acts as the chief mechanic, pit crew and team boss.
Bryce has already been racing for three and half years in the junior circuits with other kids his age. He competed last season in a Quarter Midget national circuit that took him and his family — dad; mom, Holly; and older sister, Madalyn — traveling over 20,000 miles last year to race tracks in Nashville, Tennessee; Ohio; Texas; and Michigan. Along with meeting professional drivers, another highlight was taking a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bryce also drove the 2.5 mile oval in 2016. “It’s an experience I don’t think he’ll ever forget,” said Holly.
Bryce got his love of racing from his dad, a three-time Legends car racing champion on the quarter-mile Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Indiana. The track closed in 2016. “I just knew he’d follow in his dad’s footsteps,” said Holly. “I had apprehensions, but to see the determination to do good, the love he has for it, and the focus just made it worth it.”
This is how professional drivers get their start. Tony Stewart, Sarah Fisher, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, to name a few, all started young in the stepping-stone race classes. In fact, Bryce’s favorite race car driver, NASCAR’s Alex Bowman, once drove for the Quarter Midget owner who sponsored Bryce’s car last year. Bryce said he hopes he can take his love of racing to NASCAR some day.
This year, Bryce will be racing in the Go Karts Junior 1 division. Go karts provide more speed and variety than the Quarter Midgets.
“I thought they were not that fun,” Bryce said of the Midgets. They race only on ovals. In Junior 1 Go Karts, Bryce will be competing on road courses. “You go faster, and there are more turns,” he said.
While there won’t be a team sponsor for this car, the traveling is not as far. Bryce will be racing downstate at race courses in Whiteland and New Castle.
“He does very well for his age,” noted Chris. “He gets everything he can get out of the car pretty quickly. Within two or three laps you know what you’re going to get. He’s smart about things. He takes chances when he needs to but doesn’t foolishly tear up stuff.”
While Bryce tired of ovals because he doesn’t like driving in circles, the one big reason he prefers NASCAR over IndyCar has to do with driving really small tight circles — the ones at the end of races with spinning tires, lots of smoke and waves to the crowds.
“If you win,” Bryce said, “you get to do doughnuts!”
RICHARD G. BIEVER is senior editor of Indiana Connection.