Local racer reaches the winner’s circle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Driving around at speeds of 55 mph in a miniature car with a 28-hp engine pushing the vehicle may seem uncommon to most people, but for 12-year-old Josh Klapperick and his father John, the world of go-cart racing is a weekly event and more.

This summer, the Klappericks traveled to Marshalltown, Iowa to attend and compete at a grand national go-cart championship. It’s an event that Josh competed in last year, but he took a spill on to the track in the middle of a race. Some changes were made going into that championship this year.

One was going from a 5 hp to a 28 hp engine, which meant a lot more speed and a new racing class. Another change was a second go-cart to use in a different class. The two classes that Team Klapperick competed in were 60 cc and 80 cc.

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As first time competitors in these classes, neither was sure sure what to expect but hoped for the best, and what turned out to be a surprise was taking fifth overall in both classes at the national event.

“We made one small step to a smaller shifter, but there was no one to drive it,” said John. “So we took another step and that was to go from the five horse (engine) to the 28 horse.”

Those steps paid off in memories that Josh Klapperick will never forget. He and his father were able to stand on a podium to receive their award, surrounded by superstars of the go-cart world. Both Klappericks agreed that standing on the podium was a moment that wouldn’t be forgotten.

“There were a good amount of people coming up to congratulate us, which felt good,” said John.

Josh added, “standing on the podium and taking pictures with other racers that are in magazines was neat.”

Racers that they felt could very well be tomorrow’s professional racers.

The trip to Marshalltown didn’t go without a lesson either. The experience has brought to the Klappericks’ attention what they must do. Competition at the grand nationals has more experience and more funds towards carts. Nevertheless, John and Josh are going to work together to try to come as close to target times from the top competitors for their competition classes.

“We have a set lap time,” said John. “So we have a target to get to and see if we can get there.”

The Klappericks plan to go back next year and race again with what could be “tomorrow’s professional racers.”

And they hope to do even better.

“This is just stepping stone for racers, and we want to be there with them,” said John.