When David Atwood opened the garage of his Sykesville home, it revealed multiple vintage cars collected by his father-in-law and two go-karts sitting on a rolling rack. He wheeled out the rack in the driveway. The two karts, capable of going 70 mph, had prints of the Maryland flag with a few scratches in between.
The carts were driven by his son, Brady Atwood, an eighth-grader at Sykesville Middle School. The scratches were remnants of races he’s won in go-kart championships, and he’s won a lot.
The 13-year-old’s karts bear the number 6 as a reminder of when he started the sport.
“I guess Grandpa got me into it,” Brady said about his interest in racing.
Darlene Atwood, Brady’s mom, said while other kids liked playing with their toys, Brady wanted to spend time in his grandpa’s cars or go with him to car shows. At one point, he could tell more details about a car than the salesperson at the dealership, she added. She also noted that her brother raced motorcycles, something her father supported.
“He always had that racing link,” Darlene said about her son.
David said they noticed Brady’s skill when they took him to a recreational go-kart track.
“And he was just so competitive,” he said. “It spurred his grandfather to purchase his first kid kart.”
He competed in his first race at Sandy Hook Speedway in Harford County, which is now his home track, “just to see if he would like it,” his dad said. One of the dads in attendance took notice of Brady while he was driving.
“You either got it or you don’t,” David said the dad told them about racing. “And your son’s got it.”
The dad added the Atwoods were in it for the long haul because Brady would be successful.
“And he was right,” said David.
He won two first places that day. Darlene pulled out a picture of 6-year-old Brady wearing his racing jumpsuit and holding a gold trophy in each hand smiling.
“It was definitely a proud moment seeing he was able to accomplish that,” David said.
Slightly more than a dozen trophies sat on the top of the shelf in the Atwood’s kitchen.
“These are not even all of his trophies,” David said.
The family lost track of all the first places Brady has won over seven years.
“If you look at a certain person and how much they win, it makes it look like it’s easy but it’s not,” Brady said. “You have to practice.”
Brady said he practices by watching how other racers drive and approach their turns on the track he’s about to race on.
His dad said it’s never been about the winning for him.
“We’re going to stop once it stops being fun for him,” he added. “And he enjoys it.”
Brady’s latest accomplishment was winning first place in two different races at the Grand Nationals Maxxis 4-cycle Sprint Series. The last event of that series he competed in was Aug. 14, and of the four races that day, he won three first places.
“And it would’ve been another if the chain didn’t break,” Brady said about his kart.
Brady said those races were “really competitive” and by no means easy.
Brady, who enjoys NASCAR, said his favorite driver is Chase Elliott for two reasons: he drives Brady’s favorite brand, Chevy, and he’s one of the “clean” racers in the league.
“I don’t like to win by wrecking,” Brady said. “I just don’t feel like I won if I wrecked someone for the win.”
The race season for the Atwoods lasts at least half of the year; races take place along the East Coast. This past year, Brady raced in Florida, Georgia and, his favorite track — Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, where the go-kart track sits inside the NASCAR track.
The family usually travels together for races, unless Benji, Brady’s younger brother, has a sporting event of his own. Mom goes with Brady and Dad drives the red Chevy Silverado truck with the trailer carrying the karts on the back.
When the family is together, they not only work as his support system but his mom, dad, little brother and grandfather also work as his crew.
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Although racing consumes a lot of Brady’s time, he still plays soccer and basketball as a striker and shooting guard. But racing, of course, is his favorite.