WVC 9 year old pilots dragster to second place
Nov 05, 2019 04:59PM
By Greg James
Brighton Anderson and his father Ben enjoy their moment in the winner's circle at Western Colorado Dragway. (Photo courtesy Ben Anderson)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Brighton Anderson, a 9 year old from West Valley City traveled to Grand Junction, Colorado and placed second in the junior drag racing season championship.
“My dad said, ‘Let’s buy a junior and do this thing.’ That is how it all started,” Brighton’s father Ben said. It has become a family thing, We got the racing bug and put my son in a junior which freaked out his mother.”
The Andersons purchased the car toward the end of the 2017 season and ran a full rookie season at Rocky Mountain Raceway in 2018 before its closing.
“He defied the odds and won two races in his rookie season and was runners-up in two races at Rocky Mountain to finish second overall,” Ben said.
The car is a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) certified chassis and runs a junior motor powered by a base, 5 horsepower Briggs and Stratton motor (similar to a lawn mower).
“We run his car on methanol and just the past weekend he ran 54 miles per hour,” Ben said. “That is the fastest he has ever gone.”
This season they had no home track so they picked to run at Grand Junction, a 4-hour trip. The Anderson’s plan on racing in Las Vegas this winter to close out the year.
Western Colorado Dragway in Grand Junction is a non-profit organization that rents the land it races on.
“The final race day he was 15 points behind. The kid in second he faced in the semis and for him to overtake him he had to win the race,” Ben said.
Brighton clinched a season long second-place finish with his bracket win Sept. 21 over Kian Allen. He also won Aug. 3. In his second season racing he learned the ins and outs of how it is done.
“The car, motor and equipment run 10 to 12 grand. You can buy used cars cheaper. We bought a new motor and strip them down after every season and make sure we are ready to go,” Ben said.
The Disney Channel filmed a movie at Rocky Mountain Raceway about the junior dragsters called “Right on Track.”
Driving a junior dragster is not a simple process. Buying a car and showing up at the track is only a part. A junior dragster has many rules to follow including engine and safety requirements. Not only does the car have to pass serious inspection, the driver has a series of qualifications to meet.
“He had to be licensed to run in the NHRA. He had to show that he knows all of the basic components of the car and show the shut-off systems in the car. After all of that he has to run six times down the track and have the time cards certified. One time he hit the light and his steering wheel came off. He shut the car right down,” Ben said.
Brighton attends Valley Crest Elementary School.
“It is a motherly instinct as to if her baby will be OK,” Ben said after his wife, Koriann, saw some disturbing video of racing crashes. “We had to convince her that it would be OK. Now she takes care of the logistics of our race team.”
Koriann and Ben plan to introduce their daughter Bristol to the sport next spring. Kids can race the cars as early as age 5. The age divisions limit the speed the cars can achieve.
The Anderson’s race team is sponsored by Monkey Fingers, an adjustable bungee cord company. Ben and his father crew chief the car.