Written By: Kimsoo Gopnik

Deep breaths. Simple. Just go through the course, come back and see how it feels, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Just drive.

So I did.

And it was amazing. Of course I would want to take another run. I just couldn’t wait. I tried to get back to the start line, simply turn my kart around to face the other direction. Or so I thought. Little did I know at 5 years old, that’s not exactly how driving works. My first spin came after I had only driven 30 seconds. But I was already hooked.

That was 11 years ago.

Now, I have my permit and can drive places besides the fun autocrosses at Devens, MA. But it has been a long journey to get there.

Racing has always been a part of my life, and I have my dad, Chang Ho Kim, to thank. He has been autocrossing for 30 years now, adding rallycross to the mix 15 years ago. I traveled to my first race with him at four months old down in Florida. He made sure that as soon as I could, I would be driving too.

When I started in the Junior Driver Program, I was the youngest in NER to ever drive competitively. In the Junior C class, ages five to seven, the little 50cc engines only give off about 1.5 horsepower, but it is still enough for about 30 miles per hour (try explaining that to your kindergarten teacher). But after only a few years, it wasn’t quite fast enough for me.

When I turned eight, I could move up to the Junior B class, for eight to twelve year olds. I was able to drive a little faster, around 55 miles per hour. That’s when the national competition started. I was finally able to travel with my dad to ProSolos, Champ Tours, and Nationals in Lincoln, NE. I got to learn new things, make new friends, and improve my driving skills. I gained experience, learned how my kart actually runs, and how I could work on it. Being able to understand what is happening on the course, feeling and listening to your kart, really is a great aspect of loving cars and the sport. It truly is amazing to hold a few wrenches in your hand and make modifications to your kart all on your own, as a ten year old.

But eventually, Junior B wasn’t fast enough anymore. As soon as I turned twelve, I moved up to Junior A with more speed and competition. At that point, I had learned many tips and tricks of karting. Not only was I a better driver, but also a part of the region. I got to meet new karters like I had been 11 years ago, and show them the ropes. And that really is the best part.

Three weeks after I got my permit, I joined my dad in the Rallycross program to have more #funwithcars. I don’t see myself ever not racing, and I look forward to staying involved with the SCCA and hope to branch out into different programs. But I will never forget my roots in the karting program. After 11 seasons, I have learned so much and cannot wait to continue to race in something other than a kart with a 10 horsepower engine— even though next year I will be competing in my Civic Si.

The Junior Kart Program really is a great opportunity for your family to bond, and you have no idea the friends you might make. Come hang out with us, if you love racing your kids just might love it too.