By RUSSELL BENNETT
A VERITABLE starting grid of local youngsters are well on the right track to glory, driven to success as members of the Yarra Valley Speedway Kart Club.
Ben Hodge, Ebony and Todd Hobson, and Mark and Luke Whalebone are burning some serious rubber on their paths up the local go-karting ranks.
Ben, a 17-year-old from Cora Lynn, is an Australian and Victorian title winner.
He has travelled far and wide with his parents for races against drivers from all over the country – and from a wide range of age groups.
The Kooweerup Secondary College year 12 student is fresh off an Australian title in Brisbane last month and lined up against a 66-year-old reigning champion of the sport.
His father’s experience in racing speedway cars whetted his appetite for speed and now he has his sights set on sprint car racing, both at home and abroad.
Ben’s cousin Ebony, also 17, attends Hallam Sporting Academy because of her prodigious footy talent.
But her real love lies in karting.
Her father is a 40-year racing veteran and she was seven when she first dipped her toes in the go-karting water.
The Clyde racer has a swag of placings to her name at both state and national junior level, before she moved up into the senior ranks last season.
She won back-to-back Victorian ladies’ crowns and has second and third placings to her name from open races in Tasmania and Queensland.
She dreams of making the step up into sprint cars.
Ben and Ebony are best mates and have fiercely competed against each other.
They’ve dreamt of being team mates for as long as they can remember.
Ebony “breaths, lives and loves motorsport” and has followed in her father’s footsteps by donning his number 2 on her kart.
But the success story doesn’t end there for the kart club – not even close.
Ebony’s younger brother Todd, 15, has Victorian and Tasmanian titles to his credit, as well as a second placing in Queensland.
He started at just nine years old and is a veteran of the sport already.
His favourite part of the kart racing scene… “meeting new people”.
To top off the club’s incredible success story – Berwick brothers Mark and Luke Whalebone are also bona fide champions.
Luke, 11, is the club champion and highest points scorer at the club and the pair counts Nyora and Drouin as their home circuits.
Mark, 12, finished fourth in the Victorian junior titles last year and is a multiple-race winner.
The speed demon aims to win the Australian titles in both the juniors and seniors and he just loves getting covered in the dirt and mud of the tracks he carves up.
Each youngster involved in the club credited their parents, their club, and their sponsors for helping them reach their already lofty karting heights.
For anyone interested in giving speedway go-karting a red-hot crack, visit the Yarra Valley Speedway Kart Club website at www.yvskc.com.au.