‘Mighty Quinn’ races to first win - Republic-Times | News

‘Mighty Quinn’ races to first win

By on June 13, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Quinn “The Mighty Quinn” Ahrens won her first race May 6 in Joliet, Illinois as part of the Ignite Challenge series. (photo courtesy of Mark Schwigen)

Quinn Ahrens got her first win of the 2018 Ignite Challenge go-kart racing series last month in Joliet. 

The May 6 victory puts her in second place in this year’s series in her age division. 

“It was my best time ever racing,” Quinn said, a grin that showcased her missing two front teeth lighting up her face.

The 7-year-old known as “The Mighty Quinn” is the daughter of Waterloo residents Patrick and Tracey Ahrens, and has been racing go-karts since she was 5. She has competed in approximately 20 races, getting mainly second and third place finishes, often by default. 

Most races see only three or four racers, but five competed in the race Quinn triumphed. She is the only girl in her age division and was the only girl competing in the race she won.

Quinn’s first victory was also moving for her father. 

“It was pretty emotional,” Patrick, who also owns full throttle screen printing in Waterloo, said. “There’s a ton of time that goes into it. We practice once or twice a week for hours. To actually see it pay off was pretty cool, pretty awesome.” 

The Ignite Challenge series is sponsored by Margay Racing, a St. Louis-based company that manufactures and designs go-karts. Racers compete in five races to determine who will be crowned champion. The Joliet race, which took place at Autobahn Country Club, was the third race of the series. 

“It’s a big series,” Patrick said.

A typical race day begins at 7 a.m. with two practice races. Then, there is a qualifying race, pre-final race and the final, which is the only one that counts for points. The races often do not end until 3 or 4 p.m.  

Quinn Ahrens and her dad, Patrick.

Quinn finished second in both her qualifying and pre-final race at the Autobahn Country Club. During the final race, however, she took the lead after the first turn and did not look back. 

On her way to the winners’ circle, she reached a top speed of 43.6 mph, approximately the top speed of the kart. She finished with the fastest lap in nine out of the 15 laps in the final. 

Quinn got started in kart racing after repeated urging from her father, though she was initially hesitant to try the sport.

Although she said she no longer gets scared while driving, Quinn said that was originally her concern with racing.

“When I first started I was scared,” she explained. “That’s why I didn’t want to start.”   

Nevertheless, Patrick persisted. 

“I thought it was really neat and I was pushing her a bit to try it and she refused,” Patrick said. “I finally gave up then she came to me one day and said ‘If you want me to try it, I’ll run the cart around the track a few times and if I don’t like it you can’t bring it up again’ type of thing.”

Patrick called and borrowed a kart from another racer. Quinn drove around the track a few times and was hooked.

“I want to race,” she said immediately after taking off her helmet after the test drive. 

So, her dad set about getting her a kart and the necessary equipment. 

The kart Quinn uses also comes from Margay Racing and is called a Honda Kid Kart. It’s designed for racers ages 5-8 and is the one used by all competitors in Quinn’s division, the Kid Kart Honda class. 

Additionally, all racers in  the Ignite Challenge Series are required to have much of the same equipment, including the same chassis and engine. All karts must also make the same weight. 

“It’s basically a very even field where it comes down to the driver executing on the track,” Patrick explained. 

While she was once scared of driving the karts, Quinn now said she feels happy and excited while driving. She attributes that to one reason. 

“I get to go fast,” she said.

After her first win, Quinn said she is hungry for more. Her goal is “to get another first or at least get second.”

James Moss