Racing is family tradition — even for youngsters

Third generation of Burtons now behind the wheel

Posted 9/16/18

Richard Burton said when he began driving a race car in the 1960s he had no idea it would become a family tradition. “For us, racing was a family affair, and my two boys grew up at the track …

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Racing is family tradition — even for youngsters

Third generation of Burtons now behind the wheel

Posted

Richard Burton said when he began driving a race car in the 1960s he had no idea it would become a family tradition.

“For us, racing was a family affair, and my two boys grew up at the track because my wife, our boys and I all went together to every race,” the Englewood resident said. “Rusty and Matt grew up at the race track. We were at the track almost every weekend during the racing season.

“Each race was a family event. I was there to drive and my wife and children were there with me to cheer me on. As the boys got a little older they were part of my pit crew. While I am no longer racing, both boys are still competing.

“Now we have another car in the garage behind our house to work on as my grandson Kale is now racing in a quarter-scale of the standard midget race car.”

The quarter midget is an open-wheel race car. It is equipped with a full roll-bar cage around the cockpit and drivers are securely belted in with standard safety-belt harness. The races are held at the IMI Motorsports Complex near Dacono and the complex is located a couple miles east of Interstate 25 exit 232. There are six different race courses at the complex including the 1/20th of a mile oval track for quarter midget races.

The Rocky Mountain Quarter Midget Association website states that quarter midget racing is the starting point for young men and women who want to race and is similar to T-ball as the starting point for kids who want to play baseball.

The Burtons have a large garage behind their Englewood home where family and friends help Rusty and Matt work on their race cars, and now they all join in helping work on Kale's car.

“All of us have been working on race cars since we were kids and we still work on the cars Rusty and I drive,” Matt said. “Now we also work on Kale's car. Working on it isn't a lot different that working on our cars. It is just smaller.”

He announced that the Sept. 15 race at Colorado Speedway would be the last time he regularly competes on the track because he is devoting his time to working with Kale and his younger son, who also will be driving a quarter midget race car.

Matt said he thought it was great when his son Kale said he wanted to race. However, he said as a dad he wasn't a very good spectator when his son took his car out on the track and started racing. He said he will have the same feeling now that two sons will be racing next season.

“I was really concerned the first couple of races,” he said. “But Kale did a good job behind the wheel and it is a little better for me. But I still am not a great spectator when he is on the track. I am sure that will be the same feeling when my other son races.”

The car Kale drives and his younger son Gavin will be driving are quarter-scale midgets. Each is an open wheel race car with a fiberglass body. Most quarter midgets are powered by 2.5- to 4-horsepower engines. The engine size is dictated by the division rules for that age group. The largest engines can power the cars up to about 60 mph on the track straightaways.

“Quarter midget drivers range from 4 1/2 to 15,” Matt said. “Eight-year-olds and younger drivers are the junior class and 9- to 15-year old drivers are the senior class. There is also a novice class for younger drivers like my sons.”

Kale, a 6-year-old, said his dad, his uncle and his granddad helped him get started racing.

“Racing is a lot of fun,” he said. “Of course winning is always the most fun. I am doing OK so far this season. I guess I have to work harder to go faster so I can win races.”

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