CHESTER — At age 10, nationally recognized cadet-category go kart racer Ben Maier of Chester already has a need for speed, and he has the victories and accolades piling up to prove it. He is a five-time national champion.
What started as a prime opportunity to participate in a family-friendly activity with his father, Jim Maier, soon grew into a hobby that brought success and the chance to drive on some of the most iconic tracks in motorsports history, such as Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It was there Ben picked up his latest national victory this year, making him primed to drive in the world competition in Italy.
When Ben won his age group at the big race in June at Charlotte, his dad said, “The track was very fast and he was reaching speeds over 70 mph an inch off the ground.”
“My dad first brought me to Nicholson Speedway in Chestertown and he asked if I wanted to do it,” said Ben. “After practicing, we started getting good and going to bigger races and then we started with national races. It was cool getting in those races and winning, and it can be scary when you’re passing, but when you have the lead, it feels great.”
Ben is no stranger to the sport’s unwritten rule that if you are not rubbing, you are not racing. Yet the Jimmy Johnson fan does not get rattled easily. If anything, it just spurs on the competitive juices.
After seven years of racing, zipping by a competitor at 60 mph has become muscle memory. That was key to not getting lost in the awe of tracks considered staples of the NASCAR circuit. As the design of its Hall of Fame inductee O. Bruton Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway remains the only road course in NASCAR in which fans can see every turn from the main grandstands.
Three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, two NASCAR XFINITY Series races and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event are among the major events held at the location along with The Richard Petty Driving Experience and the NASCAR Racing Experience also using the track extensively throughout the year.
Leading in the points for the national championship of the World Karting Association is not new for Ben and looking to a continued career on the track is getting increasingly easier.
“My dream is to race in NASCAR or F1,” Ben said.
For his father, the wins and the journey inspired by participating in the WKA has been a surprise.
“I’m in awe of all this and he works very hard at it,” said Jim. “We have a smaller budget than the teams that compete against us, but he’s always near the front if not leading, and he does it with a very even temperament.”
A career in racing is increasingly a reality with Ben also participating in dirt-track events that offer cash prizes. Jim is quick to note that he supports his son’s dream and looks for avenues to fund Ben’s burgeoning career.
“When professional drivers talk about their time in kart racing with their dads, they consider that the best time they’ve had in motorsports,” said Jim. “So I’m trying to support him, and we’re taking this day by day. This is an interesting sport and if you want to see what he’s up to, you can always follow him at www.watchbenrace.com.”
Jim further noted that Nicholson Speedway in Chestertown is a “hidden jewel” in the sport and a great location to begin one’s journey in go kart racing.
More information on the World Karting Association is available at www.worldkarting.com.