When freshman Jack McDonald’s stepfather first took him to the racetrack two years ago, he immediately wanted to be on the track.
“I wasn’t scared; I wanted to race,” McDonald said.
Since then, McDonald has acquired several racing awards including this year’s championship title and Sportsman of the Year for 2018.
McDonald, who is 15 years old and a student in Mr. Khoury’s Special Day class, races in two Quarter Midget classes: heavy Honda with a 120 cubic centimeters (cc) engine and heavy 160cc. Quarter Midget cars are single-seater automobiles designed to take laps around tracks 1/20 of a mile long. McDonald’s cars can go upwards of 50 miles an hour. Other than the cars
themselves, important race-day equipment includes a helmet, safety harness, neck brace, and fire suit, which protect the driver.
McDonald won the championship after a season of weekly races left him in first place. He finished the season with four fast times, six heat wins, seven main event wins and three clean sweeps, all accomplishments that McDonald’s stepfather, Toby Madden, said made McDonald’s entire family proud.
According to McDonald, he was awarded the title of Sportsman of the Year for “helping people out,” which he described as “putting air into tires and asking anyone else how I could help.”
McDonald said he does this not because other racers will necessarily applaud him or give him awards, but because he likes being kind and making things easier for others.
To race, McDonald had to learn driving techniques suited to the raceway and to the different surfaces he competes on.
“Driving on dirt is different [than driving on asphalt],” McDonald said.
One challenge he has learned to adapt to is switching between the two different cars he drives because they require separate driving styles.
Two years into racing, McDonald has no interest in stopping anytime soon because he still thoroughly enjoys the experience.
“I feel confident and happy when I finish a race,” McDonald said. “I race to win because of how it feels.”
Next year, he plans to move up to racing 360 Sprints Cars at the Petaluma Speedway, a change he described as exciting because it will be “bigger, faster and more fun.”