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Ripping around the dirt track with the big boys

The eight-year-old with a need for speed, Pryor Stacey, has taken his cart up two levels this year, as he rips around the dirt track in Cornwall. Twelve-year-olds beware. (Courtesy Mikie Stacey)

Every Tuesday (weather permitting), a young boy, who will not legally be able to drive a car for another eight years, puts a helmet on, gets into a Roby Kart with Gladiator chassis, and rips around a dirt racetrack in Cornwall at high speeds.

Pryor Stacey turned eight in May, and is coming off a championship season racing at the Cornwall Dirt Raceway Park with kids up to four years older than he is.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Stacey of racing in the older division this year.

Stacey took the title in the Box Stock (5-8 year old) last year, and moved up two divisions this year to Junior 2 (10-12).

Racing against older kids stirred a touch of anxiety in his first race where he placed third out of nine racers.

“I was nervous because I’m racing against older kids,” he said.

This week, Stacey had some trouble with the heavy wet track and placed sixth, spinning out twice.

Racing more experienced drivers means less bumping, and adjusting to their speed. Stacey dominated the lower division.

“I’m used to lapping people,” said Stacey, who also plays football and hockey. “In the first division, which I was last year, all we used to do is racing and bumping.”

Pryor’s father Mikie Stacey (also a racer) explained the term “bumping.”

“What he would do is because the cars are slower than him, he would come and bump them in the back to make them move over to pass them, but he would hit them too hard,” said Mikie, who added that Pryor was cautioned numerous times for hitting other cars too hard.

“I don’t really mean to do it too hard,” said Pryor. “We have to bump, but soft.”

Pryor fell victim to being bumped Tuesday, which resulted in him being pushed out of the top four after he spun out.

Bumping is all about mastering the art of moving deception.

“It’s all about timing; hand-eye coordination, when you’re going in, how much you’re supposed to push, when you’re supposed to let off when you get under,” said Mikie.

Pryor has been racing since he was four, and explained what he loves about racing.

“That you get to go fast,” said Pryor. “And winning trophies. I’ve got like 19.”

He’s taken rips around the ice track in Kahnawake, and also raced go-carts in Plattsburgh.

How does he like his chances of winning another trophy at the Junior 2 level?

“Positive,” said Pryor.

Mikie’s other son Pryce, 10, raced for the first time Tuesday, and his stepdaughters Jaidyn, 11, and Lydia, 5, said they wanted to race as well.

This year, it was not only Pryor who had a touch of nerves before his first race.

“The first time I saw him go this year, I was nervous because he’s eight years old moving up, not just one step up, he jumped up two steps,” said Mikie. “He’s half the size of all the other kids. I was actually really nervous to see what he’d do with him.”

Pryor proved he could take on the task though.

“He held his own, and kept up with them,” said Mikie. “He actually was aggressive and moving some of the kids out of the way to pass and get out in front.”

The Kahnawake Peacekeeper is keen to pay the price to ensure his boys and girls get the chance to follow their passions.

“I always wanted to race, but never got the opportunity to, so now him wanting to race, I’m going to give him whatever I can for him to do it,” said Mikie. “If he doesn’t want to race then I’m not going to push him.”

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Daniel J. Rowe
Daniel J. Rowe is an award-winning reporter and photographer originally from B.C. In addition to journalism, he produces and edits a Shakespeare-inspired blog and podcast called the Bard Brawl. His writing has also appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press and U.S. Lacrosse magazine. His facial hair rotates with the season, and he’s recently discovered the genius of wearing a cowboy hat.
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