Conant grad seeks support for child racer
Kevin Belanger graduated from Conant in 1991. At the time, he claims he was not much of a car racing fan, but that all changed after graduating from The University of New Hampshire and meeting his then fiancé, Karen. “She sent me off to the track to bond with her father, and has regretted it ever since,” joked Belanger in an interview last week.
Kevin’s father-in-law was a stock car racer at Star Speedway in Epping. Belanger, having majored in engineering at UNH, was drawn to the task of tinkering with the car and making it as fast as possible. “I visited the stock car track one time and was hooked,” Belanger said.
Fast forward to 2006 when Kevin’s son Joel was born with the love for racing in his blood. Joel was infatuated with “things with wheels that go” from the time he could walk. Whether it was a big wheel or his dad’s tractor, Joel just wanted to ride.
In 2010, Kevin took Joel to a local go-kart race and they watched as the karts whipped around the track. Joel, much like his father, was immediately drawn to the sport and told Kevin he wanted to try it himself. Kevin was happy to facilitate his son’s dreams, so he bought a kart of his own and started Belanger Motorsports in 2011.
With his family’s help, Joel found immediate success on the track – so much so, in fact, that he was able to move up a division after just his first racing season. “The divisions are created by assessing both the age and experience of the kids,” explained Kevin. This past season in the Tiger C division (typically ages 6-12), Joel, 6, garnered seven wins, two second and one third place finish. This earned him the track championship in the division. All signs point to Joel moving up yet again, despite his young age, to the Tiger B division for the 2014 season.
The racing season begins in April and runs through October and requires all hands on deck from the Belanger family. Kevin works on the mechanical tuning of the kart, while Karen and Megan (Joel’s sister) are “pretty much my biggest fans,” according to Joel. Each member of Joel’s pit crew has their names painted on the inside of the kart so that they are always on the track with him.
Joel reaches speeds of up to 45 miles per hour while racing his kart, and is able to finish a lap of the eighth-of-a-mile track in just under 11 seconds. When asked about his favorite part of racing, he said “I like going fast and trying to win.”
This January, the Belanger Motorsports crew entered Champion Spark Plugs “Search for a Champion” sweepstakes. With enough votes, they could win $5,000 in sponsorship money and be entered to win the $50,000 grand prize. If won, the money will be used to invest into Joel’s future in racing. Each racing season costs around $3,000 to complete between gas, kart maintenance, entry and pit fees. To vote for Joel and support him and his team, visit www.belangermotorsports.com. The contest runs through Feb. 2.