PHOENIXVILLE — Dozens of young drivers gathered at Phoenix Raceway for one of the largest youth racing events in the country this weekend.
Trailers and quarter midget cars stretched deep into back grounds of the raceway from Friday until Sunday as part of the United States Auto Club (USAC) “Gen Next” Quarter Midget Car Dirt Triple Crown Series.
“There’s a bunch of dirt tracks around here that went to USAC and they’re having a national race series. The first event is here,” said Joseph Altmann, the father of two boys who raced over the weekend. “Apparently this is the biggest sanctioned USAC event that’s happened so far. So, yeah, this is a very big event.”
More than 60 quarter midget car races were run Sunday, the final day of the event. Saturday was spent for qualifying and Friday was devoted to practice.
Praise for the Phoenix Raceway was universal.
“It’s a class-A outfit,” said Lou Heller, of Wallingford. “Nice people. We run into people in all these states but, personally, down here in Phoenixville, this is the second time we were ever here and it’s a wonderful operation.”
“It’s one of the best facilities around for this type of racing,” Altmann said.
Heller works with Tyler Eckhart, a young man he said he’s “sort of an uncle to.” Eckhart said the track was “hard to figure out.”
“The track changes so much,” Heller said. “They water it to keep it from cracking. They’ve got that really nice red clay so it goes from tight when they water it to loose.”
Phoenix Raceway is the home track for Hannah Flood, a Spring-Ford student from Limerick.
“I mean, I come here every week, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s kind of nice having other people come in,” Flood said. “There are some people who have never come here before and they’re finishing great.”
Flood won her first race Sunday, the unrestricted animal class final.
“I started fourth and then I spun out in the beginning of the race,” Flood said. “So then I started in the back again. I just stayed patient and made my way up, car by car.”
She took her methodical approach to the heavy world formula final, winning third after falling to the rear when she spun out early.
In her last race of the day, Flood fell to the back twice.
“It was rough,” she said.
Despite those setbacks, she was able to grind out a fourth-place finish.
After every race, drivers passing the leader held their hands out to give a gloved thumbs-up to the winner and many drivers also would walk out to meet the champion after photos were taken to shake hands.
One woman’s son won his first race Sunday. Hustling along the fence to congratulate him, she wiped tears from her eyes with both hands.
“It’s a lot of people,” Eckhart said, waiting near his car. “It’s fun.”