Miktuk Takes Aim at Championship
Cole Miktuk, a 12-year-old rookie in the Young Guns division who came up one lap short of winning the Bandolero Bandits championship last year, is locked in a torrid title fight with defending champion Tyler Green and Brandon McReynolds.
McReynolds is the 14-year-old son of former NASCAR crew chief and television commentator Larry McReynolds while Green is the 16-year-old son of veteran NASCAR Busch Series driver Mark Green.
With McReynolds and Green able to tap the vast motorsports knowledge of their fathers, Miktuk and his family team have a lot in common with a one-car NASCAR NEXTEL Cup operation battling the sport's multi-car mega-teams.
"Their last names give them a bit of an advantage," Miktuk said about his title rivals. "Having a famous last name makes it easier to get into various racing series. There are some things they might not have to work as hard for, but that's how it goes.
"I don't really think about the fame of their last names," Miktuk continued. "I just try to focus on what I'm out there to do. You have to remember that each of them is just another person out here racing."
Even though he is not part of a famous NASCAR family, Miktuk does have racing in his blood.
"The racing gene definitely runs in the family," he noted. "My grandfather used to race and my uncle raced a little bit as well. My dad used to watch racing when I was younger and I became interested in the sport because of him."
Miktuk, who lives is Rock, Hill, S.C., is still three years away from being able to obtain a driver's license in his home state, but the tenacious 12-year-old has been driving for seven years.
"I've been driving since I was 5 years old. I learned to drive starting with farm equipment. I drove a tractor, a backhoe and a bulldozer. For my birthday last year, we bought a field truck so I could learn to drive a stick."
In two seasons of Bandolero racing, Miktuk has recorded an amazing 62 top-10 finishes, including 17 victories, in 63 starts.
So what happened in the lone race where he didn't finish in the top-10?
"The worst wreck I've ever had," Miktuk responded. "I was leading on the final lap of last year's Hardee's Summer Shootout, in the Bandits division, and two cars spun out in front of me. I had no where to go, and ended up backing into the wall. As a result, I lost the championship by four points. It was horrible, but I'm hoping this year will end differently."
Miktuk's father, Mark, serves as his son's crew chief and his mother, Marsha, does all she can to support her son's career aspirations.
"Cole is meant to drive a race car," said Marsha Miktuk. "We have known that since the time when he was 5 years old that he told us, 'I was born to race!' His family supports him the whole way."
Miktuk is among nearly 200 racers that will be in action each Tuesday night as the Hardee's Summer Shootout runs through Aug. 16. The series features three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and the popular Thunder Roadsters.
Admission is just $5 for adults. Children 6-12 are admitted for $3 and kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free. Contact the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS for information or to purchase tickets.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:25. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15.