KARNAC.com - Your Online Racing Community Since 1997 Florida Stock Car Racing
Where the weather is a little hotter
and the racing is a lot faster.....All Year Round!

Your Online Racing Community Since 1998
Stock Car Racing all year round!



Front Page | Archive | Drivers| Tracks | History | Series | Events | Got News? | Message Board |
|Columns | MotorHeads | Classifieds | Links | Weather |Search | Letters | Audio | Photo Gallery

Race Results
 Auburndale Winter Series Underway

 Randy Korte Storms to Front For Crate Late Model Win

 Korte Kaptures Krate Kash

 Mathews & Beck Top Friday Night East Bay Mains

 Cooper Tops USA Modified Special Show

 Santos Wins PRA Event at USA International

 Hendry County Back In Action

 Big night for Kile at Charlotte County

 Brandon Johnson wins Hopkins Family Truckers 200 at SpeedWorld

 Schrader Leads East Bay Win Parade

 David Wilson Takes First Win, Choquette Secures Championship

 FAST Results From Charlotte County

 Campi Grabs Two Wins in Trucks, Morris Gets Late Model Victory

 Neumann & Cannon Share Citrus Twin 50 Mod Wins

 East Bay Welcomes December With Warm Hearts and Hot Racing

 James Wright III Gets Auburndale Road Warrior Win

 David Wilson tops AACS at Desoto Super Speedway

 Staropoli Wins Race, Morales gets 2006 Pro Truck Championship at New Smyrna Speedway

 Brandon Johnson tops 75 lap Enduro at SpeedWorld

 Larson captures FMSC Win at New Smyrna Speedway;Thornton Takes Championship!

 Scofield Wins 2006 Governors Cup

 Doug Moff big LLM Winner at Desoto

 Nosbisch returns to East Bay Victory Lane

 Scofield wins 41st Annual Governor's Cup 200 and 2006 Sunbelt Super Late Model Championship

 Auburndale Results

 Danny Anderson Wins DeSoto Trucks; Late Gets Late Model Win


 Sarppraicone "Jr" Makes Tire Gamble Pay Off, Wins Q Auto and Injury OWM "Race of Champions"

 Bruce Durden leads Wire to Wire to Take Sprint Feature Win

 Seven Championships decided at Citrus Saturday in Season Finale


Citrus County Speedway

Southern Short Track Stock Car Racing

Motorheads Directory of MotorSports

 Columns & Editorials

June 29, 2004

Kart Racer Overcomes the Odds

A Story of Hope, Desire and Success At East Bay Raceway Park

by Bill Green

Tampa, FL (June 18th, 2004) - Carlos J. Rodriguez is not your ordinary Go-Kart racer. He's not your ordinary rookie racer, by far. Carlos is different. Carlos cannot use his legs.

Young racers come from all walks of life, but most of them can walk. But when the younger Rodriguez began to show an interest in cars and the racing that his Father, Carlos A., was watching on TV, mom had an idea.

When the family moved from Massachusetts to Florida, she used the opportunity to try some parental psychology. Jannette Rodriguez made a deal with the want-a-be-driver. He would have to learn more of the normal day-to-day caring for himself. In return she promised him, his own Go-Kart.

"At the time, I was not thinking racing. I was thinking something for the yard, not trying to out run others." Jannette explained with her deep Spanish accent.

So the young driver worked hard to fulfill his end of the bargain. He brushed his teeth, learned personal hygiene and began the difficult road to self-sufficiency. As mom and dad looked on, Carlos really started to change. Little tasks that most of us take for granted, Carleto (Car-lee-toe), as his parents call him, had to work hard to master. But, he did and mom kept her promise.

Dad soon started watching the small trade papers and newspapers around their home in Gibsonton, Florida, for karts for sale. Finally a $1000 dollar Kart appeared in the paper. Carlos, Sr., was skeptical, but mom said at least we can look and see what it looks like to compare to others. So the Rodriguez family paid a visit to the Butch Rubb racing family.

They learned quickly that not only was it a cool looking Kart, but it was a very safe racing Champ Kart. As the Rodriguez's explained their story to Butch Rubb, he explained the safety of the extra roll cage and the local learner classes that were available at Ambassador Racing to teach young Carlos more about driving and competing. As Jannette explained the next part of the story, I choked up. You would have too. "Bill," she said, "Mr. Butch gave Carlos the Kart. He is an angel. He would not take any money and he has been there every step of the way as we began the racing."

After a full set of training days at the Ambassador Racing School in Balm, Florida, Carlos arrived at East Bay Raceway Park for his first night of racing. Even though it was a Champ chassis with special built hand controls, he entered the rookie beginner class. For the first 10 weeks he started at the back of the heat and feature lineups, but I think after recent events, he may take his rightful place among the pack in the near future.

Yyou have to understand that to compete at all makes Carlos the victor. Two events back he tested his parents nerve when he opted to go full speed into the exit lane fence, in order to miss the flagman standing outside turn 4. The sudden stop on the fence post stopped every heart that witnessed it. Carlos was OK and he was rolled into the pits with major front-end damage, everyone applauded his grit. The next week he would not just stop hearts, he scared the heck out of us all. Especially Mom.

As the race started Carlos kept pace with the others. Using hand controls is awkward to say the least. You're always a little slower to react, but as Carlos has gained experience, he has gained in car control. As he was near others on the track someone began to spin ahead of him. Someone behind bumped him. Suddenly Carlos J. Rodriguez was rolling. Tumbling over other racers. Landing back on his wheels in a sudden jolt. Think about it! You're eleven years old, you've just started racing and you've done everything to build your confidence and ability in a few short weeks. Last week you survived your first wreck and now, in your first real side-by-side racing, you get upside down.

When his father arrived, he was smiling. When his mother arrived, she wanted to stop. But, when Carlos' father ask how he felt, his reply was, "Fine." Medics quickly assessed the young driver and found no problems. So his father asked more questions. Where you scared? "A little bit, but I liked it!" Do you want to stop? "No, I want to race!"

As the helmet went back on and the engine fired, there erupted such a roar from the spectators that tears came to many eyes. The little boy, that mom thought would find life hard and cold as he learned simple tasks, was making friends at every event. Plus, after finishing third in a heat recently, he got lots of high-fives and good wishes, from his new found racing family. His self-esteem has grown and his parents now know that young Carlos can handle himself out in the world. On and off the track.

The story has been told before. Others have over come great odds to go racing, but reading it is not like living it.

Come to East Bay Raceway Park and meet the boy that won no races, just the admiration of all who watch him run in his Rookie Year. You'll be glad you came and your children will be glad you brought them, too!

You can meet Carlos Rodriguez, plus his bold and supportive parents on any given Friday Night during East Bay Raceway Park's "Friday Night Under-The-Lights" Go-Kart racing.

We'll See You At The Races!
William C. "Bill" Green

Have an opinion on this story? Post a message on our Message Board!
or send a letter to the editor!



 O'Reilly Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series Fast Facts, Talladega

 A Simple "Thanks" Will Help

 My Hope for 2008

 Short Track Racing is Going to the Dogs

 The Big Showdown That Never Happened

 Avoiding the Summertime Rainouts

 Is Racing Clean And Sober?

 Is Florida Speedway Co-operation All That Important?

 "Bathroom Wall" Revisited

 Wrecks, Black Flags, O My!

Copyright© KARNAC.com 1997-2006 KARNAC.com and SHORT TRACK AMERICA is electronically published by KARNAC MEDIA. The KARNAC© name, logo and trademarks are owned by and used with the permission of KARNAC MEDIA. Reproduction or republishing in whole or part for inclusion in any work is strictly prohibited without prior written permission of the electronic publisher.