By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A need for speed
Blankenship on a go-cart
Photos courtesy of Regina Rosello Local racer William Blankenship won 15 races in 2017.

You don’t want to face William Blankenship on a go-cart track.

If you do, chances are you won’t be winning.

Blankenship, 14, has capped a highlight-filled 2017 race season by being named Junior Driver of the Year by Double Duece Karting Media. There were about 50 finalists in contention for Driver of the Year from a field of thousands.

“He won from the entire Midwest, which is thousands of drivers,” said Double Deuce representative Regina Rosello. “He had some unbelievable stats for 2017 and he won some prestigious races, the biggest of which was the Burris Racing Nationals on Oct. 23 at Dumplin Valley Raceway in Kodak, Tenn.”

Blankenship enters races mostly within a six-hour drive. In 2017, he competed in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri.

Out of 28 races entered, William won 15 of them. Of the 13 races he didn’t win, he finished in the top 5 on nine occasions, and the top 10 in three other races. He had one DNF, did not finish.
“I enjoy racing because I have made friends all over the country and have the opportunity to do something I love,” said William.

Rosello said William’s competitiveness is remarkable considering his team consists of him and his father, Jerry Blankenship. She said the two of them typically compete against big-dollar teams with a bevy of specialized mechanics.

“They are noticeable at the track because they are a two-man show,” said Regina. “It’s just the two of them working side by side and that’s what makes this all the more special in my eyes. For those who don’t know go-cart racing, it’s a very competitive sport. Some teams have motor guys, chassis guys and tire guys. They also have big sponsors behind them. William pulls off the wins against some big teams with major backing.”

Depending on the track, William’s go-cart can reach speeds of 50 to 70 mph. It’s a different setup for each track, according to Jerry Blankenship, who works alongside William at their shop in Centertown to get everything just right.

“It takes about six to eight hours to get ready to run a big race,” said Jerry. “William has a lot of responsibilities. He disassembles the car, then he reassembles the front end while I do the back. It’s a lot of cleaning, inspecting, repairing, and replacing. It’s teaching him a lot about mechanics and it’s honing his driving skills. Plus it lets us spend a lot of time together. We might get up at 5 or 6 a.m. the day of a race and we won’t pull back in the driveway till 2 or 3 a.m. It’s all day long.”

Jerry said there are constant go-cart adjustments once they reach the track. Sometimes it involves changing out gear ratios to get the go-cart performing at its optimum level.

The Junior Division consists of racers from ages 13-15. Jerry says the next step for William will be racing cars.

“We’ll be looking for some type of full-bodied car, probably when he turns 15,” said Jerry. “That will require a lot more funding. As it stands now, if we go and win, we pretty much pay our expenses. We’ll have to decide if he wants to race dirt cars or race on asphalt. He ultimately wants to race at the highest level. That’s his goal and we’re going to lay the foundation to give him every chance he can if he has the talent to do it.”