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One-time motorcycle racer Steve Wall sees the world divided between fendered and non-fendered racers. He leaves no doubt about his preference.
“When people get into full body cars they don’t came back to open wheel stuff,” says Wall, director of the USAC Northeast Ford Focus Midget Series. “If you can take these kids out of quarter midgets, micro sprints, go karts and give them a stepping stone, they tend to stay with open wheel cars.”
The series’ second season opens Saturday night at Waterford Speedbowl.
Wall expects a strong field and a competitive event based on testing at the Connecticut third mile. “The place has written some great Midget stories and we’re prepared to do our part,” he says.
He can’t help but make history. It will the first USAC sanctioned event in the Speedbowl’s 56-year history. Self-starting and non-winged, the Focus Midgets present a new view for Speedbowl’s fans.
The series is not without some magic including Jeff Abold, the son of Northeast Supermodified legend Pat Abold and one of five winners last year. Two other 2005 winners - Nick Wean, who finished third in points last year (behind Abold) and Steve’s son Aaron - also return.
Stephanie Stevens, a college student with a passion for racing, is one of three females in the series. The others are Abby Matino and Ginny Quinones. “Stephanie was very close to winning two or three times last year,” Wall points out. “She is very close.”
It was the desire to keep his sons in open-wheel cars that motivated Wall, active the past few years at Whip City in Massachusetts, to bring the three-year old Focus program to the northeast.
“These kids are young but they’re not all rookies,” Wall says. “There are many Quarter Midget, Micro Sprint, Go Kart championships in the group. A lot of them have 10 to 12 years experience. That’s why it is so competitive.” The 22-year old Stevens, a racer since age nine, has five go-kart championships.
Stevens was “looking to get into something different, something with a little more horsepower, but didn’t have quite the budget yet. Then we found out about Ford Focus. Now that I’m doing it, I really love it. It is so cost effective.”
She is especially looking forward to the Speedbowl. “Visiting different tracks is something we all appreciate,” she says.
Although the chassis vary, the “crate” engine keeps the competition even. Wall says the field is almost always on the same “half of the track” at the finish.