Thomas Sword, 16, and his brother, Pat, 10, enjoy the speed and competition of racing. The two young Mount Airy boys are part of a growing number of youngsters who race go-karts every week.
Thomas was the first to race karts, but it wasn't his first choice. He originally wanted a four-wheel recreational vehicle, but his father, Jim, didn't like the idea because he felt that they were dangerous.
Still, Thomas asked if he could get one if he made the honor roll in school. In the meantime, Thomas and his father attended the go-kart races at Monrovia Raceway, adjacent to the 75-80 Dragway.
Thomas made the honor roll and still wanted the four-wheeler, but his father tried to persuade him to try kart racing. One night at Monrovia, they found a kart for sale.
Thomas was still not interested. His father talked him into taking a spin and when he came back off the track his first words were, "Man, this is it." Thomas is now in his third full year of racing karts.
A year later, Pat became interested in kart racing. In a short period of time he found out that at 8 he was old enough to race and there was a kart for sale.
For the past two years, Patrick and Thomas have been racing almost every weekend during the summer with their parents' support. Patrick races in the box stock light division and Thomas in the super stock division.
The Swords have come a long way since their first year when there was a lot of trial and error.
Karts are powered by a five-horsepower Briggs & Stratton motor. The motors for younger classes that Patrick competes in have restrictor plates on them to keep speeds down, still he is able to reach speeds of 40 mph on the straight-aways.
Last weekend the boys raced at Chestertown on the Eastern Shore and Monrovia, both asphalt road courses. Thomas finished sixth and fourth, respectively, at the two tracks. Patrick was fourth at Monrovia and was running fifth at Chestertown when another car made contact with him on the final lap.
The boys are doing well in points at Monrovia. Thomas is the point leader in his division and Patrick is third. Thomas attends Linganore High School and Patrick attends the Twin Ridge School in Mount Airy.
Even though school is back in session, there is still a lot of racing on their schedule. The Sword family is looking forward to the Gold Kart Nationals. The three-day event will be at Monrovia Raceway on Sept. 23-25 and is expected to attract more than 150 competitors of all ages from all over the East Coast.
Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead has been struggling this year after winning the late-model track championship at Winchester (Va.) Speedway. But last weekend, he got back on track, winning the second of three 20-lap features at the Hagerstown Speedway. Schaffer took the lead on the second lap and led the rest of the way to gain his first win at Hagerstown since May 1991. Schaffer also had a second-place finish and a ninth-place finish. Gary Stuhler of Westminster was second, seventh and eighth in the three features.
At Winchester Speedway, Westminster's Ernie Jones was fifth and his brother Rick was seventh in their late-model feature.
In micro-sprint action, Dave Parrish of Westminster placed second in the feature at Challenger Raceway in Jacksonville, Pa. He also won his qualifying heat.
At Trail-Way Speedway, Mike Stull and Steve Owings of Westminster placed third and fourth, respectively, in the main event. Greg Messersmith of Manchester was third in the thundercar feature, John McDonogh of Finksburg was sixth and Mark Shorb of Westminster was seventh. Matt Barnes of Westminster won the four-cylinder feature with Jeff Young of Westminster second. Craig Mann of Westminster was eighth.
In super-sprint action, Cris Eash of Woodbine finished seventh at Williams Grove Speedway and second at Selinsgrove Speedway. At Lincoln Speedway, Howard Williams was third in the semi-late feature, Kenny Angell of Taneytown was sixth and John Moser of Westminster was ninth.
In drag racing, Chris Grimm of Reisterstown won Class I competition at Capitol Dragway in Crofton on Saturday. At 75-80 Dragway on Friday, Chuck Taylor of Westminster went three rounds in Class I competition. In Class II action, Steve Cavey of Westminster went six rounds and Roger Jorss of Westminster went five rounds.
On Saturday, Nathan Etzler of Mount Airy won Class I by defeating Joe Mayne of Mount Airy in the finals. Tim Peters of Westminster went to the semifinals, Paul Yeager of Sykesville won three rounds and Dave Peters of Westminster and Kenny Queen of Mount Airy each won two. Jeff Melso of Keymar won Class II on Saturday night. Then Melso raced against Class I winner Etzler and defeated him to pocket the Snap-On Tools bonus money. Larry Hoff of Westminster won five rounds and Steve Henry of Mount Airy won four. Marion Ford of Hampstead won the motorcycle class.
The 75-80 junior dragster division traveled to Indianapolis Raceway Park and placed second in NHRA competition. Two of the nine juniors included the county's Mike Cashman and Josh Wagner.