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Teen driver fills up on racing trophies

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By John Shindlebower

 

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Carson Chapman may be on the fast track to success. Just two years removed from the first time he climbed behind the wheel of a flat kart at Bluegrass Indoor Karting, Carson is now filling up his room with trophies.
The 13-year-old has been burning up tracks in Louisville and more recently in Nelson County. He has dreams of following in the tracks of his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and at least at this point in his young career, he’s on pace.
It didn’t start out that promising.
Carson describes his first laps around the track at Bluegrass Indoor Karting as anything but impressive.
“I was as slow as a donkey,” he said.
However, his slow laps didn’t deter him. “I wanted to be more competitive.”
So he learned by following. He got back in the cart, followed some of the faster drivers and soon learned how to stay on the inside, how and when to accelerate and in a few short months, he went from following to leading.
At Bluegrass Indoor Karting, he was winning 50 lap races, not only against kids his age, but against adults. He won two junior championships and one adult championship and set two track records.
He had some folks there encouraging him to continue his climb and since this past March, he’s been racing on the dirt at the Bourbon City Raceway in Bardstown. He won his most recent race there this past Saturday night and is in contention to win another championship in the 10-15 year-old age division. He’s taken seven checkered flags there this year.
There is danger involved, a fact both Carson and his father, Corby, don’t take lightly. Corby spent six years racing stock cars at Louisville Speedway and understands there’s always a chance for accidents. In fact, in Carson’s first race this year, he flipped his cart and was whisked away in the back of an ambulance to be checked out. He had no serious injuries and he was back the next week behind the wheel.
He’s equipped with a helmet of course, but maybe more importantly, he’s gotten more experience and a better understanding of what his kart can and cannot do. The karts are capable of speeds easily exceeding 50 miles per hour and there are no protective roll cages.
Of course, there’s chance of injuries in every sport.
Carson tried other sports as a kid, but he’s found his passion on the track. Corby said his son came up to him the other day and said “I think I was born to race.”
Corby said he’s going to continue to be as supportive and as encouraging as possible. “I tell him to just go out and drive and to do your best.”
Racing can be an expensive sport, but the elder Chapman said he’ll do what he can as long as Carson lives up to his end of the bargain by trying hard in school and staying out of trouble.
“As long as he’s making good grades and staying on the straight and narrow, we’ll go as far as I can.”
While the classroom will remain the priority, Carson is getting plenty of education on the track as well. In just two years, he’s learned much about maintaining the kart he drives. He’s able to troubleshoot problems on the track with how his kart is performing and make suggestions as far as needed adjustments to the machine. It’s what the big-time racers do, and they likely started off learning the same way.
Carson’s journey is being aided by others along the way. He’s got a few sponsors, including Custom Race Products, Bob Hook Chevrolet and David Stevens Trucking. He’s also got a couple of mentors at the Bardstown track in Cody and David King, who have taken both Carson and his dad under their wings to help them succeed in karting.
Who knows, this local kid who will be a 7th grader at Spencer County Middle School this year may one day be trading paint with Earnhardt and other big names of NASCAR. Success stories always start with a dream, and Carson’s dreaming big.