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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • A passion for dirt car racing

  • Taft’s Bailey Thompson just started racing last year
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  • Something will come along from time to time that will put into motion a kid’s interest or passion in a particular activity or sport.
    One could say that was the case for Taft’s Bailey Thompson as she competes in her second year of dirt car racing.
    Thompson’s connection to racing started when she was a baby with her parents bringing her to the races.
    When she was a week old to the day she was brought to the race her father, Jeff, was competing in.
    According to Jeff, the noise in the garage would help put her to sleep.
    “That was a way for her to stop crying and go to sleep,” said her father.
    Ever since then, Thompson has grown up around racing.
    Thompson, who is now seven years old, would follow races and would be disappointed when she missed one.
    “When I missed some I cried,” she said.
    When she was about two to three years old Thompson said she wanted to race.
    Then last year Thompson, who was six at the time, got her chance and started racing.
    During her first season of racing last year, Thompson got to compete in 28 races.
    Out of those races, Thompson competed 12-14 times at Bakersfield Speedway, seven times at the new Kern County Raceway and ten races at Santa Maria.
    In order to get to the main event last year though, a rider had to finish in the top four of their heat.
    It took all year for Thompson before she got into a main event race.
    So far last season and into this one, Thompson has competed in Bakersfield (at Kern County Raceway and Bakersfield Speedway) and Santa Maria.
    Last season Thompson also raced at Plaza Park in Visalia.
    The racing season goes from mid March until October with Thompson competing three weekends a month.
    Next year, Thompson will race at the same places and maybe also in San Diego where Jeff’s brother and her cousins live.
    Every race Thompson competes in is recorded. Then each week after the race, Thompson and her father will go over the video of the race.
    Thompson had a minor scare last year.
    In the middle of last season, Thompson was racing in Santa Maria when her car flipped over.
    She was asked if she still wanted to race and she said yes. So far this year, Thompson has no real wrecks.
    Page 2 of 3 - When it comes to racing in general there is nothing tough about it for Thompson.
    On the flip side the best part about racing for Thompson is “going fast and having fun.”
    Thompson has also helped out building her first car by attaching the body onto the car.
    “It’s just as much work as a big car,” said Jeff.
    Currently, Thompson rides a mini dwarf with a 61/2 horse power engine.
    The mini dwarf was also the first car Thompson competed in but it was an older car.
    “The way her first car was built didn’t fit her,” said her father.
    After the first season, Thompson made a switch to a different car.
    Recently at a race in Santa Maria Thompson (who was racing with a new motor) finished third, which was her best finish in a race.
    Meanwhile her best finish in Bakersfield was fourth.
    In her most recent race this past weekend, Thompson was fifth out of 12 cars in the junior mini dwarfs division at the Bakersfield Speedway.
    Thompson will continue her season this weekend by racing at the Kern County Raceway.
    So far this year, Thompson is fifth in points at the Bakersfield speedway with 408 (as of June 17) and ninth with 79 points in the mini dwarfs division at the Santa Maria Speedway.
    Thompson is also 12th in the standings of the mini dwarfs junior division at Kern County Raceway with 38 points according to their website.
    Racing and maintaining the car is not cheap and Jeff is grateful for all of the sponsors that have helped out.
    “I’ve got $5000 wrapped up in this new car,” he said. “The cool thing is we got help around town.”
    While they have had some help with the maintainence of the car, they are still looking for new sponsors.
    They also have a five member team in Bakersfield. Thompson and her father keep the car at a race shop in Bakersfield with everyone on the team helping each other out.
    Jeff and Bailey go to Bakersfield a couple of times a week to work on the car.
    One person from the team also helps tow the car. Yet when it comes to racing, the team races as individuals.
    Thompson is not the only racer in the family to compete. In fact she is a fourth generation racer.
    Her father was a racer but he raced for fun.
    Thompson’s great grandfather raced back in the 50’s.
    Page 3 of 3 - Thompson’s nieces, nephews and uncle also race.
    Next year a new, lighter car will be built for Thompson if she finishes in the top five in points.
    Racing is not a short term desire for Thompson. She wants to some day race a sprint car-the highest level of dirt car racing.
    “I want to race until I am 52,” she said.

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