×

Racing Through Generations

  • At left, Kip Stockwell, of Randolph Center, Vt., and his sons Avery, 9, and Howard, 12, attend a driver's meeting with other parents and their racer children at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 16, 2016. The Stockwell brothers are the fourth-generation in the family to race, starting with go-karts like their father did. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Howard Stockwell, 12, of Randolph Center, Vt., makes an adjustment to his go-kart in his grandfather's race shop in Braintree, Vt., on May 14, 2016. The one-car garage is the same space his father, Kip Stockwell, prepared his NASCAR Busch North race car in, shown in a photograph on the wall. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • After an inverted start for the main race put him at the back of the field, Avery Stockwell, 9, of Randolph Center, Vt., works his way to the front in his No. 16 go-kart at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. Stockwell led the race but placed second after a last lap pass. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Howard Stockwell, 12, of Randolph Center, Vt., waits for the first practice of the season in his new go-kart at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. "I'm more nervous than excited," he said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Howard Stockwell's pit crew -- from left, his grandfather Mike Orticari, of Randolph, Vt., father Kip Stockwell, of Randolph Center, Vt., and grandfather Lennie Stockwell, of Braintree, Vt. -- watch during his first practice of the season in a new go-kart at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kip Stockwell, of Randolph Center, Vt., gives his son Avery, 9, a pep talk after he finished third in his qualifying heat at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. At center is Lennie Stockwell, of Braintree, Vt., who helps work on his two grandsons' karts. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Isaiah Hogan, 10, of Canaan, N.H., gets his picture taken by his mother Amanda after winning the Junior Bandits A race at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. Hogan passed Avery Stockwell, right, 9, of Randolph Center, Vt., on the last lap of the race. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Avery Stockwell, 9, of Randolph Center, Vt., takes a moment alone before his go-karting practice run at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kip Stockwell, of Randolph Center, Vt., checks the computer on his son Avery's go-kart while tuning it as his son Howard Stockwell and Howard's grandfathers Lennie Stockwell, of Braintree, Vt., and Mike Orticari, of Randolph, Vt., prepare Howard's kart in the background at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Howard Stockwell, 12, of Randolph, Vt., waits as his grandfathers Mike Orticari, left, of Randolph, Vt., and Lennie Stockwell, of Braintree, Vt., prepare his go-kart for a practice session at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., on May 15, 2016. At right, Kip Stockwell does the same for his other son, Avery, 9. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Howard Stockwell, 12, of Randolph Center, Vt., rounds the corner in his go-kart oval at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H., during the final race on May 15, 2016. It was the first race for Stockwell's new kart. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Isaiah Hogan, 10, of Canaan, N.H.,, left, and Avery Stockwell, 9, of Randolph Center, Vt., talk about Hogan's last-lap pass to win their final race at Claremont Speedway in Claremont, N.H.,on May 15, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



BY GEOFF HANSEN
Saturday, May 28, 2016

Racing is all in the family for the Stockwells. Avery, 9, and Howard, 12, are enjoying their third season of go-kart racing at Claremont Speedway. Their father, Kip, ended his career as a driver in 2008, driving in the NASCAR Busch North, K&N Pro and ACT series. Kip’s father, Lennie, raced at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt., in the late-1960s. Lennie’s late father-in-law, Alton Corey, raced in Concord, Vt., in the 1950s.

Working from Lennie’s one-car garage in Braintree, Vt., all of the family’s racing effort now goes into the go-karts. On a recent Saturday afternoon, Kip and Lennie work to set up the suspension for both of the Ohio-built karts, including setting them on scales to be sure the weight, including its driver, is within the rules.

It’s the same shop where Lennie and Kip built race cars to compete across the country, including Busch all-star races at Irwindale Raceway in California in 2003, 2005 and 2006. “We did really well against them, with what other teams had to spend,” Kip said.

Avery and Howard, who live in Randloph Center, keep plenty busy with go-kart racing and they also bowl competitively, play baseball, Avery races motocross and both boys race radio-controlled cars. And their father runs a repair and towing business their grandfather started and teaches diesel technology part-time at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center.

The first of the Claremont Karting Series’ 14-race season was rained out on May 1 — which was fortunate for the Stockwells, because Avery and Howard were competing the same day at a bowling tournament in Bennington, Vt.

Two weeks later, the -mile track at Claremont Speedway was dry but cold — temperatures had dropped 20 degrees overnight. Trucks and trailers lined up for the pit gate to open at 10 a.m. Racers ranging in age from 5 years old to adults had traveled from as far as three hours away in Connecticut. The Stockwells pulled up in Frankenstein, their vintage delivery truck, with an enclosed motorcycle trailer containing their go-karts and tools.

After signing in, there’s the driver’s meeting. Introductions were made, race sponsors were thanked and officials stressed fairness and sportsmanship. “Everybody has an interest in the races, and everybody has a say,” said promoter Bruce Batchelder, of Springfield, Vt. Racers are split into seven divisions, dependent on their age and driving abilities. Go-karts range in price from a $1,500 used to $5,000 new.

Grandfathers Mike Orticari, of Randolph, and Lennie helped prepare Avery and Howard’s go-karts. After a couple of practices, adjustments are made to Avery’s car by his father, using feedback from the driver and a data-logging computer attached to the kart. Howard had one practice before the chain snapped due to loose bolts holding the engine on his new go-kart.

The drivers, cars and track may be smaller, but the intensity of the competition is the same. Vying for position on the track, racers work to make a pass that will either work — or not. When there’s a crash, they slide off the track and a corner worker picks up the back of the go-kart, points it in the right direction and they’re off again.

While both brothers are interested in racing, they have different approaches to the sport. “Avery’s a kid who still thinks like a kid. Howard’s all business,” Kip said. “Avery doesn’t want to work on them.” He said they have two different driving styles. Howard thinks through what he’s doing; Avery drives more freely.

Howard spent his heat and final race getting used to his new car, finding his way. Avery placed third in his 10-lap heat, followed up with a race to the front in the 25-lap feature race. On the last lap, Isaiah Hogan, 10, of Canaan, passed Avery on the left to win the race. “When you passed me, I almost peed my pants,” Avery told Isaiah after they were out of their karts.

While NASCAR teams are known to sign 10-year-olds to contracts because high school seniors are competing in their upper series, Kip Stockwell is happy to give his children a chance and see what happens next. “We just don’t know where this is going to take us,” Kip said. “We might get lucky.”

The Claremont Karting Series resumes their races today at Claremont Speedway. Gates open at 10 a.m., with practices starting at 11:30 a.m. There is no charge to watch the races from the grandstands. For more information, to go claremontspeedway.net.