By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Eight-year-old Connor Fasching has been racing go-karts for four years and has two bookcases full of trophies to prove it.
His newest addition to his trophy collection is the 2008 Stockholm Motorsports Season Championship trophy that was presented to him at the Northland Regional Karting Association Banquet Oct. 11.
His parents, Ted and Lori Fasching of Winsted, say Connor is just a natural born racer. Before he was three years old, he was zooming around the Faschings’ kitchen with little power wheeled electric cars.
When Connor had just turned five years old, Ted had bought him his first go-kart, which went 30 miles per hour. He took him to the parking lot of the Faschings’ family-owned business, Triple T Race Products, in Howard Lake.
Ted had put up cones in the back yard of the shop so Connor could practice steering before he raced in the five-to-seven-year-old group called “kiddies” at Motorsports Park just outside of Cokato.
Ted’s father, Gene Fasching, was on hand to watch his grandson’s go-karting debut. Connor represented the third generation of drivers in the family lured to the excitement of speed. Both Ted and Gene have been involved in racing most of their lives.
“When Connor started, he could barely see over the steering wheel, and his helmet was bigger than he was,” Ted said.
“We set him down outside. He got in and took off, and I looked at my dad and said, ‘this is going to be expensive. I can see it coming,’” Ted said.
Ted’s predictions came true. To begin with, he was hauling Connor’s go-kart in the back of his pickup truck to and from the Stockholm Motorsports Park.
Then Ted got a go-kart, and they got a trailer.
“Then grandpa got a go-kart, and then grandpa’s friend got a go-kart. Now we have a big trailer. Those karts multiply like rabbits,” Ted said.
There really is no secret to Connor’s success. The family just takes racing seriously.
“But not too serious,” Ted said. “Some people just show up and haven’t seen their kart since the last time they raced. They don’t work on anything,” Ted said.
That is not true of the Faschings who have a season practice pass so they can go whenever the Stockholm race track is open and practice as much as they can.
Although Lori doesn’t race, she is very positive about the time that Connor and Ted share at the park.
“I think it is neat that Ted and Connor can go out there, and Ted has his friends and Connor has his friends,” Lori said.
She is also appreciative of all of the safety measures taken to keep the drivers from injury
“They are pretty safe. The kart is real wide and close to the ground. They have bars across the back so no one can get up over the tires from the rear,” Lori said.
The race track is 6/10 of a mile long with 14 turns, but the track layout is flat grass if anyone were to run off the track.
Everyone is required to wear special equipment which helps to protect the drivers in case of an accident.
A chest protector is required for ages eight to 12 years, the group that Connor now races in.
Besides the chest protector, a neck brace, helmet and visor, a one-piece driving suit, boots, and gloves, made out of a heavy duty material, are worn to protect the drivers in case they are thrown from the kart.
There are no seat belts. The idea is to fly off the kart instead of staying with it if there is an accident, Ted said.
The go-kart Connor drives is basically a one-size-fits-all.
It is an Intrepid with a Briggs and Straton 6 horsepower engine. The kart, made in Italy, is sold in Cokato.
“There is about $4,300 invested in the car,” Ted said. “I look at it this way some people have boats and some people have snowmobiles. We have go-karts.”
The frame is metal but everything on the outside of it is plastic that absorbs the energy if there is an accident, according to Ted.
The tires are special racing tires that are made in Brazil. The regular tires are smooth, but racing in the rain requires tires with treads on them.
Lori’s boss, Chris Neaton of Neaton Brothers Erosion in Watertown buys the tires for Connor’s go-karts.
“Chris said he plans to drive Connor’s transporter when he is big into NASCAR,” Lori said.
A restrictor on the motor which keeps the vehicle from going over 50 miles per hour, is required for Connor’s age group. The foot pedals are moved back about 12 inches so Connor is able to reach them. As he gets older, the restrictor will be removed and the pedals will be moved forward.
The racing season begins in May. There are 15 racing events a season, with three races per day, six laps for each race. Each race averages 10 karts for each age group.
“We race probably twice a month on an average. Each day is separate. Saturday is one day for points and Sunday is another. Points are accumulated through the whole year. It was in accumulated points that Connor won the World Formula Rookie (ages 8-12) championship for his class this year.
“It takes about 57 seconds to make one lap, and 55.9 seconds is Connor’s best time,” Ted said. “About five minutes to run a race.”
According to Connor, his favorite part of racing is the speed. His other hobbies are four-wheeling, fishing (but he doesn’t like to eat fish), and he wrestles at Watertown elementary where he is in the third grade.
Racing is a bonding time for all three generations
Just as racing has allowed Ted and Connor a special bonding time, it has given Ted and Gene some extra father and son time, too.
“Some days we’ll sneak out there when Connor is in school and he doesn’t know about it, just to practice,” Ted said.
“But it is still for Connor,” Ted said. “I don’t need to race all of the time. It is fun, but it is hard on your body. You are out there going 50 miles an hour making right turns and left turns with bumps in the track. It is hard on your back.”
Ted and Gene work at Triple T Race products in Howard Lake making products for top fuel dragsters, one of the fastest-accelerating vehicles in the world.
“We started in 1994 building headers for the dragsters, and just today, I finished our 435th set in the last 15 years,” Ted said. “We ship to Australia and Switzerland and everywhere. It is a good product.”
Ted has been around racing all of his life. He began working with a top-fuel dragster crew in 1989.
“I worked on race car teams all over. I used to travel,” Ted said. “It isn’t quite the same as it used to be. It is more like being in the army now. When I started it used to be two people and a crew chief. Now you have got nine guys and trying to keep everybody happy.”
Gene used to race pro-stock cars in the late ‘60s and raced until 2002.
At Stockholm Motorsports Park, Ted races in the 15 years and older group. Gene races in the over 50 age group. Their go-karts will go about 52 to 55 miles per hour.
“On Memorial Day weekend all three of us were at the podium,” Ted said. “Connor got first place in his class, I got second place in mine, and my dad got second place in his. They said it was the first time they ever had three generations at the podium at the same time.”
The family would like to see more interest in go-karting. A rental kart program is available at Stockholm with all of the safety gear for $12.50 for 10 minutes.
“It is the best 10 minutes you will ever spend,” Ted said.