SPEED DEMONS: Nine-year- old Sam James is quickly rising up the go-kart ranks, and his brother Max is setting the pace at the Cooloola Coast Kart Club in Gympie.
SPEED DEMONS: Nine-year- old Sam James is quickly rising up the go-kart ranks, and his brother Max is setting the pace at the Cooloola Coast Kart Club in Gympie. Contributed

Less than 10-years-old and learning to drive

KARTING: THE James brothers are quickly shaping up as two of the Cooloola Kart Club's most avid young drivers.

The brothers live in Caboolture, but they call Gympie their home track and make the journey to the Gold City regularly to race.

Sam and Max both raced in Gympie last month in the final round of the Southern Queensland Series, which attracted 88 drivers and about 300 people.

Sam has been racing for about two-and-a-half years, while younger brother Max has been racing for only a year.

Sam broke the track record, slicing .09 seconds off the previous record.

The long-standing record was 41.59sec, which at the time was considered to be unbeatable before another driver then took it with a 41.53sec record. He held this for just two races until Sam beat it with a 41.50 seconds.

Sam now holds the track records in both directions.

Despite the relatively short amount of time he has been competing, younger sibling Max quickly found he had the knack for driving and is closing the gap on his older brother.

"I started racing because my brother Sam was racing and when I went to a 'Come and Try Day' I really liked so I asked Dad if I could race as well,” Max said.

"I started off really good in racing and was on the podium pretty much every race.

"This got my confidence up and Dad took us to Mackay for the second round of the Queensland State Titles.

"I finished third and it was only my eighth race. That was really cool. My brother Sam flipped his kart and did not finish the race.”


The family involvement in the sport has seen the siblings socialise and grow their friendship group.

"I like the competitive side of the racing and it is really great fun and you get to meet a lot of kids your own age and we sometimes stay at the track and play tag in the dark, or spotlight,” Max said.

"They also go very fast at the Gympie track. I get to 90km/h. I also like getting trophies at presentation.”

Max said the sport has taught him responsibility and the ability to work with his brother, as well as others.

"Dad does all the work on the kart and the famous "Dezzy” from Power Republic builds our engines, but we have to clean them after racing and look after our race suit, helmet and gloves, as dad says, 'no gear, no racing',” Max said.

"My brother Sam is a good racer and helps me a lot with my lines and braking points and we have been busy this year racing most weekends.

"At Gympie I qualified not good and then had a bad start and ended up sixth. Sam broke the track record so he had a good day.”

Sam and Max's dad, Dean, said the sport also teaches the young drivers hand/eye coordination and motor skills.

"It teaches them good driving skills, good for their confidence,” he said.

"Their hand/eye coordination is still developing at this age and they pick it up so fast.

All kart drivers, no matter how old, must meet Australian Racing Standards concerning helmets, race suits, gloves and boots.

Most racers also use a neck brace.

"We are reminded on the grid this is a dangerous sport, and if anyone has doubts, raise them,” Dean said.

"They are 1.5 or 2 inches from the ground, doing 90km/h, the kids learn to take responsibility and think about their safety.”

The work to keep the karts on the track is expensive, but the community which surrounds the sport is undeniable.

Dean said the thing the sport teaches most is that community.

"There's not many sports where the guy next to you, competing against you, will lend you a hand or give you tips.”

Cooloola Kart Club president Peter Phillips agreed.

"There isn't a sport like this, especially when you have a guy lend you a spanner or something so you can get back out on the track to race them.”