Rockdale 13- year-old on the fast track when it comes to strip racing

W hile most kids his age are starting to

think about getting

their learner's permit to start driving with an adult in the car, Kyle Williams is gleefully speeding down a track at 80 miles per hour—by himself in a $15,000 car.

The Rockdale seventh grader just sped to the junior dragster championship in the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) in Rockingham, North Carolina, one of the meccas of racing.

The 13-year old had to win his last race to take the crown over Chris Snyder of Austin.

The competition was so fierce, that had Williams lost, he would have finished third.

The International Hot Rod Association has been a leader in sanctioning drag racing events in the United States since the organization was formed in 1970.

Williams, a member of the Tigers' seventh grade football team, took an interest in drag racing 2 1/2 years ago, when he was 10 1/2 years old.

He began racing at nearby Little River and did well right off, placing second for track points.

"He really has a knack for it," says father John Williams. "And he loves doing it."

Kyle Williams has been driving       dragsters since he was 10 1/2. Kyle Williams has been driving dragsters since he was 10 1/2. He was taken under the wing of the Gerthes, the first family of Rockdale racing, who produced a champion themselves in daughter Alesi.

"We bought her car from them," Williams says. "He's trying to follow in her footsteps. The Gerthe family has been great to him. They're all there every time he races."

Williams has a pit crew that is very familiar to him—his family.

"We do all the maintenance," John Williams said. "

Above the cost of actually owning a car, drag racing can be expensive with the traveling and hotel stays, but it's probably not any different than having a child playing softball or volleyball all year long.

"I'd rather spend the money now than later. Now, I know what he's doing and where he's at."

Additionally, it's a lot safer than

the football Williams plays.

"He comes home after football

practice with bruises and cuts,"

Williams says. "In racing, he

hasn't had a scratch."

Williams will move up in class

next season where he can drop

down in time from 8.2 seconds

to 7.9. which translates into faster

times. The competition will be held in Bristol, Tenn., another

name known well by race enthusiasts.

"We have met so many good

people," Williams said. "Good

families. You race and compete

against them, but at the end of

the day, you're all friends."


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2009-11-12 digital edition



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