Racing to win with the pedal to the metal is how 5-year-old Justus Spillner Jr. does it.
“I go as fast as I can,” he said. “I like racing and winning.”
Still a novice in the sport of auto racing, Justus Jr. is a quick study, starting his young career by taking second place in a quarter midget race at the Roy Hayer Memorial Race Track in Rio Linda.
“It was his first race so it was pretty exciting,” Justus Jr.’s dad Justus Spillner Sr. said. “He got the medal for having the fastest qualifying time on the day and he took second in the main event. He led for more than half of it.”
At the event, Justus Jr., showed he was born to race, finishing first in qualifying and persevering after a nasty crash in a heat race.
“He flipped twice that day,” Justus Sr. said. “One was just a tip over during practice, and in the heat race he was booking it in, went on the inside to pass and they locked tires and it launched him, and on that one his exhaust fell off. Luckily, that was a heat race and not the main event.
“When he crashed everyone in the pit area ran out and asked if he wanted to keep racing and he said he was fine so they put (the exhaust) back on and he got back out there and finished the race.”
Justus Jr.’s courage was appreciated by the spectators.
“They started cheering for me,” Justus Jr. recalled with delight.
Making Justus Jr.’s top finishes more impressive was the fact that he did it in 104 degree heat and often times with his car and helmet caked in mud from the track.
With a near record qualifying time and second place finish in his first race weekend, the pint-sized driver hopes to continue improving and collecting trophies. Next up for Justus Jr. is a race this weekend, also in Rio Linda.
Justus Jr.’s love for racing started at a very young age, Justus Sr. said.
“He’s been into racing since he was so little,” Justus Sr. said. “He took to racing more than football or anything else. He knows all 40 NASCAR drivers by number and name.”
Being a NASCAR driver is Justus Jr’s dream job, but it was a chance encounter at the All American Speedway in Roseville that landed him in the driver’s seat.
“We would take him to the All American Speedway on Saturday nights and last year they had a quarter midget out there on display, so Capitol Quarter Midget was doing a little demo and they said to take him out to the free training, so we brought him out.”
Capitol Quarter Midget Association in Rio Linda offers free training for kids every Tuesday (except the first Tuesday of every month), according to their website. Youths 5-16 can come to the track and learn how to race with the close supervision of trainers. For more on the Capitol Quarter Midget Association and all they offer visit www.capitolqma.com.
Once Justus Jr. had put in enough time on the track and turned 5 years old, it was off to the races, said Justus Sr.
Racing isn’t Justus Jr.’s only sport though, the soon to be Union Hill kindergartner also enjoys wrestling and football.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.