MOORESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Testing a 3,200-pound NASCAR Cup Series car on the racetrack can cost a pretty penny for drivers and their teams. Toyota has found a unique way for up and coming stars in the sport to get track time without breaking the bank.
NASCAR is known for racing on ovals, but more road courses have been added to the schedule in recent years. Toyota is now taking some of its drivers to a Mooresville go-kart facility for more seat time, proving that any time on the track is vital.
“Very interesting, very fast. A lot of fun,” said driver, Will Rodgers.
Every Tuesday you will find Rodgers suiting up and driving off in a 70 MPH go-kart. The speed of the kart is much slower than the 3,200, 700-horsepower NASCAR Xfinity car he is used to.
“It’s still really good to get in a go-kart every week just for repetition and then just to knock the cob-webs off,” said Rodgers.
The goal isn’t to knock the wall down, attempting to be the fastest on the track.
“The main focus is consistency. Making sure you can hit, lap after lap, within a tenth. That is a pretty big margin believe it or not. You really wanna hone in on those hundreds of seconds,” said Rodgers.
The extra track time is courtesy of Team Toyota. They supply half a dozen karts to their drivers. The track they use is the GoPro Motorplex, which is a 0,7 mile, 11-turn karting facility, that’s also open to the public.
Rodgers has logged hundreds of laps at the facility, but like any track, there are a few turns that throw the experienced driver for a loop.
“Turns 9 and 10 which are a double right-hand corner. The rental go-karts I can figure them out, but with these karts a lot more grip, power and speed it’s a very difficult part of the course,” said Rodgers.
The difficulty of the karts also reminds Rodgers of 18 years ago, when he was 8-years-old, living in Maui, Hawaii and cutting his teeth in racing.
“It definitely takes me back when I jump on a go-kart. They are a ton of fun and what you forget is how brutal they are,” said Rodgers.
Another challenge is the road to becoming a NASCAR star. Right now Rodgers is relaxed, enjoying the finer things in life that racing has to offer.
“Funny enough I don’t have tried and true goal. A lot of people always ask, Will where do you want to end up? I just want to end up in racing and find my place, of course, I would love to be behind the wheel but that’s a really tough goal to accomplish on a full-time basis at least,” said Rodgers.
Will Rodgers says his next scheduled race should be in June when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series makes a return to Sonoma Raceway in California.