When the days begin feeling longer and the sun begins to shine brighter, it means that summer is just around the corner.
And one of the exciting things that summer brings with it is the races at Saratoga Speedway. The Speedway’s 2016 racing season will be going all the way from May until October, and while there are many exciting classes to watch, from Road Runners to Crash to Pass, from Bomber Cars to IMCAs, there’s one class that’s been growing at an incredible rate since its inception. On May 7, Opening Night, there were a total of 36 Hornet Cars at the track, that’s almost twice as many cars as the other three classes which were racing that night had combined. With such a large car count, the Hornet Division has found themselves split in to two different Divisions. The Hornet As and Hornet Bs. Regardless of which division, Hornet Cars are small 4-cylinder cars with minimal modifications beyond roll cages and other safety features. The Hornet B Division is for all Hornet Cars which are advertised as having 139hp or less, any cars producing more will be placed in the A Division. Alternatively, if a driver runs a lap time of 19.1 seconds or less, they’ll find themselves in the A Division regardless of horsepower. While the Hornet Class is a “beginner’s class” and people can start racing in it as young as 12, there’s no age limit and it certainly attracts a lot of different people. But what’s made the Hornet Class so appealing?
“It is a great affordable way to try out racing,” says Ted Dimitrov, an ex-Hornet Car racer and current flagman at the Speedway. “In a lot of cases you can get a built, starter car for $500.”
Beyond cost there’s always the intimidation of going against experienced drivers but this is something that new or prospective race car drivers need not fear as Dimitrov explains, “We are all like family. Not everyone always gets along, but just like family, lots of them will be there when you need help. […] the big brothers (experienced), will always try to help the little brother.”
Of course, newer drivers often don’t have the ability to compete with the faster cars, but as Braydon Weiler, driver of the #15 Hornet A car, explains, due to the Hornet Class’s large size, it doesn’t matter, “how slow or fast you are, there is competition for you.” Most of the people at the Speedway have either raced or been a part of the Hornet Class in some way. Boston Larson, 2015’s Bomber Season Champion began his racing career in the Hornet Class. When asked whether or not he’d recommend the Hornet Class he was overwhelmingly positive. “Of course I would!” Larson says, “The Hornet B Division is the best class to ever start racing in! It teaches the younger kids to get their driving skills and be safer on the road.”
Others agreed with Larson. Andy Guest, whose son has raced in the Hornet Division and who’s been involved with the Speedway since 1975, says, “racing is a great sport, not only does it teach people how to drive defensively it makes them good people in everyday life, in how to treat others on and off the track.”
Not only does racing help create better drivers, but it builds better people and relationships. Guest says, “The best part of racing besides the fun and learning all about cars is the camaraderie involved…and all the great people you get to meet and be involved with. I highly recommend families get involved in racing as I have seen so many cases where parents start the season with their kids and by the time the season is over they have become friends.”