Carson Kvapil, 11, admitted it was difficult to convince his parents he wanted to race, but father Travis Kvapil, NASCAR’s 2003 Truck Series champion, said he simply wanted to make sure his son had the desire the sport demands.
“He’d always been around the race track, but he never seemed to be very engaged in racing,” the 38-year-old Travis explained. “He liked to go and watch and hang out, but didn’t really seem to have much of an interest until a couple of years ago.”
That’s when the young Mooresville resident began racing go-karts at his hometown’s indoor facility, The Pit. His parents then took him to Concord Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout Series so Carson could watch the races. Last summer, they rented a Bandolero for him for a couple of weeks before deciding to purchase one.
Carson has quickly shown his parents they made a good investment. When Concord Speedway’s spring series concluded, Carson was at the top of the Bandolero Beginner Bandits standings.
In the first half of CMS’ Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series, he consistently produced top-five finishes in Beginner Bandits. He’s also competing on dirt in the Mini Outlaw Sprints division at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury.
“It’s kinda cool; two completely different kinds of racing – asphalt Bandolero and a dirt sprint outlaw go-kart, basically,” Travis said. “He’s done really well on the dirt track. He’s raced over there twice and finished third and second. I think the dirt stuff will be good for a young driver. My background was all asphalt racing growing up in Wisconsin, so it’s all new to me. The few times I’ve been to the dirt track I’m really taking a liking to it and I think it’s great for a young driver to get on the dirt and slide around a little bit.”
Travis, who is competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, notes Carson’s biggest improvement has been his aggressiveness.
“A year ago when we were out here he was more concerned with follow-the-leader, not rough anybody up,” Travis said. “Now I see him being more aggressive, sticking the car in there three wide or getting that left-front tire off in the grass. He’s kinda trying to make things happen versus just kinda riding around.
“I feel like I almost need to pull the reins back in on him a little bit. He seems like he always wants to drive the car off into the corner really far and then the car doesn’t want to turn or it’s too loose. He needs to learn and I need to teach him to let the car do the work for you, be a little smoother. He’s only 11 years old and this is probably just his 10th or 11th time in a car, ever.”
Travis would like for Carson to gain experience on more tracks, but noted that because of his racing schedule it was difficult.
“I think for a young driver to go to different tracks it’s good for that learning curve instead of just running at Charlotte 15 times a year,” Travis said. “I know they race at Atlanta and Texas. It would be nice when I’m there with the Cup car to bring his Bandolero and be able to run at those events, too. That would be a lot of fun for the whole family. We’re still kinda new to this. If we can keep the family involved and it’s not just me and him away from the family doing this, it’s a lot of fun.”
Of the tracks where Carson has raced his Bandolero, he prefers the banked quarter-mile Concord facility and looks forward to returning to it after the Summer Shootout Series concludes.
“It’s a fun track (because of the banking),” said Carson, who will attend Mooresville Intermediate School this fall. “You can tell when to brake and gas back up. It’s way easier. You can go a lot faster. When you have banking you’re leaning on that. When you don’t have banking you have to slow down more and let off on the gas a lot.”
Carson’s persistence with his parents about wanting to race is the type of determination required by the sport.
“He’s right there with me working on it, doing the weekly maintenance stuff. If he wrecks it, he’s helping us fix it,” Travis said. “He hasn’t wrecked it too much and we’ve been able to tweak on it and tune on it from week-to-week. Not only are we making the car better, but we’re making his racing skill and his race craft better. Each and every time he goes out there, he’s learning. We’ll take it one step at a time.”
Three generations to race
Sherrills Ford resident and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland, 38, and his 14-year-old son, Todd, will race against their father and grandfather, respectively, July 19 in a Super Late Model Series race at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.
Butch Gilliland won the NASCAR Winston West (now K&N) championship in 1997. David was his father’s crew chief during that title winning season. The 56-year-old Butch hasn’t raced professionally since 2002.
Irwindale, located east of Los Angeles, was closed in 2012, but reopened this year. It was one of the West Coast tracks where David developed his racing skills and the site of his first asphalt track victory.
FUEL Racing Series
The FUEL Racing Series event that was rained out June 27 has been rescheduled for July 25 at Carolina Speedway.
Also on the racing schedule that night is a $750 to win Stock Car Steel/UMP Modified race, $700 to win Domino’s Pizza Street Stocks, $600 to win Thunder Sportsman and $500 to win Renegades.
The MMRS event will be made up on Aug. 8 as part of the King of the Carolinas qualifier.
Lincolnton’s Randy Powell, Tim Sigmon of Denver, and Iron Station’s Junior Pittman celebrated the Fourth of July weekend with victories at East Lincoln Speedway.
Powell won the Stock 4 feature, Sigmon the Limited Sportsman event and Pittman the Super Stock Fours race.
Pittman is second in the Super Stock Fours track standings, 15 points behind leader Jennings Herman of Concord. Neither Powell nor Sigmon are in the top 10 in the track point standings in their respective divisions.