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Monday, May 2, 2016

Fort Scott fifth-grader is piling up wins

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Andy Bryant, 11, of Fort Scott, kneels in front of three trophies he recently won at races in Wichita Falls, Texas. A fifth-grader at Eugene Ware Elementary School, Bryant has only been racing for two years.(Ruth Campbell/Tribune)
Andy Bryant might be a reticent 11-year-old boy, but put him in a go-kart on a dirt track and his actions speak volumes.

In two years of driving, he's won 68 races -- 14 this year, his father, Micheal said.

"I've been around stock car racing my entire life," and Andy's record is not typical, he said. Micheal worked with late-model racer Randy Zimmerman.

Andy Bryant races along at the track in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he won three trophies in March.
(Submitted Photo)
Because he liked racing, Andy said he asked his dad if there was any variety of the sport he could participate in.

"We had some friends that go-cart raced. They had a track. We borrowed one of their carts," Micheal said. Andy tried it a couple of times, then surged forward to where he is today.

"He's got a natural talent for it," his mother, Dawn Bryant said.

Andy now has access to three go-karts, one of which belongs to his 8-year-old sister Mia. Racing is a family affair for the Bryants. They head to the tracks together in a mobile home, Micheal and Andy's mother, Dawn Bryant said, and are gone every other week year-round.

"We might race three weeks out of a month," all over the country, Micheal said.

They run several different engine combinations and have help from Larry Tracy of Springfield, Tom Ray of Des Moines, Mike Halliburton, technical support and coach from Columbia, Mo., Brumback Motor Sports of Fort Scott, DRP Performance of Virginia and RII Concrete, Mike Rogers, from Fort Scott. Horsepower can range from 7 to 12 hp.

Along with go-karts, Andy has also started racing a wing car for Mark Borecky in Hutchinson. The second time he ever drove the vehicle, Andy beat a youngster who was undefeated.

Andy, a fifth-grader at Eugene Ware Elementary School, enjoys being able to compete against others and says it's fun, most of the time. "After a while it gets pretty easy," he said.

His father explained that once you start racing along a certain line, you get into a rhythm and it gets easier. While he's certainly not bored, winning has also become somewhat routine for the youngster. "You kind of get used to it," he said, adding it does feel good to stack up those victories.

This summer, Andy will have a chance to drive a bandolera car -- a mini stock car designed for kids -- on pavement in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. "It's opportunity to look at the pavement world and see how he reacts," said Micheal, vice president of operations for Nashville, tenn.-based Healthcare Productivity Automation (HPA), a software development firm.

Eventually, Andy wants to transition to NASCAR.

"He wants to go all the way to NASCAR. I guess we'll see," Dawn said.

"We're having fun right now. Whatever it leads to, we'll be happy with it. There are thousands of people trying for 43 spots on Sunday. But to get there, you have to know someone or have connections. Our goal right now is to have fun as a family," Micheal added.

Dawn noted that there's always something she and the rest of the family can do from the sidelines.

"We all take part when he's racing -- cleaning tires, cleaning helmets" and watching, Dawn said.

Go-kart races on smaller tracks will usually have 12-13 competitors, and those on larger tracks, 18-20, Micheal said. There are two heat races, then a feature contest. Racers typically run 20 laps and the fastest they go is about 50 mph.

Crowd size depends on the where they are. Tulsa will attract 3,000 and Springfield, about 1,000. Sometimes only a handful of people show up. Venues can be in or outdoors and some are permanent, while others are pre-fabricated -- where dirt is brought in.

Some contest award money to winners and others offer trophies.

There is a group of youngsters and parents Andy and his family hang out with at "shows," Micheal said.

"It's probably not as big a spectator sport as stock car racing," Micheal said, but it's more family-oriented. The Bryants and other families will have cookouts together.

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YEAH for Andy and Mia! What a great family interest. We will be able to say "I knew them when!"

-- Posted by ActiveOne on Tue, Apr 5, 2011, at 8:41 AM

Proud to know this young man!

-- Posted by doodlebug\ on Tue, Apr 5, 2011, at 9:51 PM

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