Checkered flags fly for young driver
Oct 04, 2017 03:14PM
By Greg James
Natalie Waters from West Jordan also races in the midget class at Rocky Mountain Raceway. (Creative Resource & Design)
By Greg James | [email protected]
To race a car fast, a driver’s license is not necessary, apparently.
Chaz Groat is making a name for himself on the three-eighths mile oval at Rocky Mountain Raceway. At 13 years old it is not legal for him to be behind the wheel of a car on the streets, but at the track he is beating more experienced and older drivers.
“We are a racing family. I have been around racing for a long time. He ran a go kart out at the Larry H. Miller track for two years starting when he was four years old. Soon after that RMR (Rocky Mountain Raceway) started the quarter midget program for kids, he progressed up through that program,” said Chaz’s father Chuck Groat.
In the quarter midget program at RMR the cars are generally half the size of a normal midget race car and run in classes with engine restriction rules. Drivers range in age from 5-16 years old. Last summer Chaz moved into a junior stinger class on the larger oval. This class is for drivers age 12-16.
He said he always wanted to drive a midget car. After some discussion with officials the age was lowered to match what other Intermountain race tracks were offering and Chaz found a car.
“I joke with my wife that I feel like I am completely helpless. I just sit back and try to watch him do what he does,” Chuck said.
In 2016, he was invited to Meridian Raceway in Boise, Idaho to race for the first time in his midget car. He also ran his car in Pocatello, Idaho. His first main event victory came at Meridian.
This season will be his first complete season in the racing class and he has made the most of his opportunity.
Midget cars run a Ford Focus alcohol-injected engine. At this altitude it generally has about 155 horsepower and weighs about 1,100 lbs. The engine is sealed and cannot be tampered with. The competitive edge comes from suspension set up and setting up the fuel.
Chuck owns two complete cars. He has raced alongside his son. Chaz’s racing career is funded by his parents. He also is sponsored by Powder Works Powder Coating and Roto Grip Bowling Balls.
“He kicked my butt. It was thrilling to watch. I figured this was his first year and he should just get some seat time. He has taken to it. I think it took me three years to get my first win,” Chuck said.
Chaz captured his first main event victory Aug. 5. He was fast qualifier and started the main near the back of the pack. He patiently made his move towards the front. At one point he was nose-to-tail with his father, passing him with about five laps remaining in the event.
Natalie Waters has followed Chaz’s same path in the series. Waters is also 13 years old and lives in West Jordan.
“From a dad perspective I think these kids are doing something amazing. People should come watch what they are doing in these race cars,” Chuck said.
They plan on going to the Bullring in Las Vegas at the end of October.
“I really just look for the best opportunity. I watch the cars around me and try to figure out the best way to get around the track. It was an amazing feeling to win the main. We have an amazing car. My dad is my favorite race car driver it has to be,” Chaz said.
Chaz is in eighth grade and attends Kennedy Junior High in West Valley. He is the son of Chuck and Julie Groat.
“The thrill of it is amazing. Going 100 miles-per-hour down the track at RMR, it is exciting,” Chaz said.