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Go-kart racer eager to get into car

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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One thing every teenager looks forward to is driving. At 12 years old, Folsom’s Hunter Corbitt hasn’t reached teenage status yet, but he’s itching to climb into a racecar later this year.

Corbitt, a seventh-grader at Folsom Middle School, has been racing go-karts since he was 5 and has had quite a bit of success. Last year, he won three International Karting Federation championships, which he said is his biggest accomplishment to date.

When kids reach the age of 13, they can graduate into racing an actual car. Corbitt responded with an excited “oh yeah,” when asked if he’s looking forward to racing a car. His favorite racecar driver is Kevin Harvick, who drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Corbitt got his start in go-karts eight years ago when he received one as a gift from his grandpa.

“He was just beating up the lawn and finally we thought we should find him a track to race on,” said Hunter’s dad, Jeff.

Corbitt races about 20 weekends per year, about half the time in California and the other half in states on this side of the country, including Colorado and Utah. He’s raced as far away from home as Indianapolis.

He’s coming off a fantastic year in which he claimed the three championships, competing against upwards of 20 other 8- to 12-year-old racers. The races are held on road-course tracks from three-quarters of a mile to a mile in length. The karts, which feature a variety of engine packages, reach speeds as fast as 70 miles per hour.

While he likes going fast, speed isn’t the only thing Corbitt enjoys about racing.

“I like the competition,” he said, “and winning.”

Two of Corbitt’s many victories stick out as his most memorable wins.

“In 2009, I was running last all weekend and in the very last race, I made a bet with my dad that if I won he’d buy me a new helmet. In that race, I went from last to first and made the winning move on the last corner.”

Jeff added with a laugh, “It was pretty incredible, but it cost me $600 on a helmet.”

Another big win came in September in Apple Valley.

“I was leading on the last lap and had to block on the last two turns,” Corbitt said. “I got hit on the exit of the last turn and there was a three-way dive to the finish and I was in the middle and I won it.”

The one disappointment this past year came at Super Nationals in Las Vegas in mid-November. Corbitt, who had improved from a 12th-place finish in 2010 to sixth-place in 2011, was favored to win the race this year.

“I was running in third-place before I was in an accident about midway through the race that knocked me out,” Corbitt said. “I ended up 19th.”

Had he won the race, Corbitt would have likely earned the opportunity to race in Italy.

“We had our bags packed,” Jeff said. “Maybe next time.”

For now, though, all eyes are on the future and getting into a car. Down the road, Corbitt said he’d like to be a professional racecar driver. Jeff said when racers turn 13 they can race what’s called legend cars and at 14, stock cars.

“I’d like to be a NASCAR driver,” Corbitt said. “My grandpa likes it.”