Michael Grijalva first climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart nine years ago, but the Nevada Union senior to be just scored the biggest win of his racing career.
Grijalva, a 17-year-old Rough and Ready resident, took the checkered flag at the IKF Road Race Grand National at Portland International Raceway last week.
“Part of it was luck,” said Grijalva, with a short laugh. “The guy in first place had his engine give out on him. But really, it was being consistent for the whole 30 minutes.”
And, because the 27 cars racing around the 1.9-mile track were competing in three different classes, Grijalva said he didn’t realize he’d actually won the race until he’d pulled his kart off the track.
“I really didn’t know what to think, at first,” he said. “I thought I was in fourth or fifth.”
Nevertheless, he was happy to be handed the trophy hardware in the IAME Cup class, based on 125cc single speed karts using a spec engine. His margin of victory was 27.52 seconds.
Another local driver, Mike Estrella, finished sixth in Yamaha Ltd. Heavy and fifth in Yamaha Ltd. Light classes.
Grijalva was introduced to karting by his father, Hiram, who saw a kart for sale and decided to give the sport a go. Father and son mostly work on the ride themselves and typically travel to tracks at Infineon Raceway, Thunder Hill and Reno/Fernley. “I just like it because I like spending time with my dad,” Grijalva said. “And I like to go fast.”
He also likes to practice magic, a hobby he’s been working on for nearly as long as he’s been racing. He’s performed his act for business events and birthday parties, although the material is mostly for an older audience.
Grijalva said he plans to attend a junior college before transferring to a four-year university to seek a career in engineering – just in case, of course, this racing thing doesn’t pan out.
“It’s something I’d like to pursue, if I could find the money somewhere,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’d like to pursue as a career.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
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