American young gun in action

Speedway movers and shakers (from left) driver Daniel Anderson, of Te Anau, driver Buddy Kofoid,...
Speedway movers and shakers (from left) driver Daniel Anderson, of Te Anau, driver Buddy Kofoid, of California, Kofoid's mentor and manager Doug Rutz, of Canada, and engine builder Jim Richmond, of Canada, talk tactics at the Central Motor Speedway. Kofoid is competing in the two-day New Zealand Sprintcar Title at the Cromwell speedway today and tomorrow. PHOTO: PAM JONES
A young driver garnering international attention is predicted to turn some heads at the Central Motor Speedway this week.

The presence of 17-year-old up-and-coming American driver Michael "Buddy" Kofoid had prompted organisers to put a new handicap in place for the starting line at the speedway's club championships last month - sprintcars were going to be handicapped on age, putting Kofoid at the back of the pack as drivers took off.

Heavy rain then caused the cancellation of the championships, so racegoers did not get to see Kofoid on the track. But he is back in town for this week's two-day New Zealand Sprintcar Title at the Cromwell speedway today and tomorrow.

Speedway promoter and champion sprintcar driver Jason Scott said it would be exciting to have Kofoid competing.

In the United States, Kofoid was beginning to be known as a "racing prodigy", but his composure and good nature were as much of a talking point as his age and abilities, Scott said.

"He's a class act. He's just all style."

Kofoid, who is based in California, was brought over to New Zealand by Te Anau driver Daniel Anderson, who races sprintcars in the United States and Canada.

Kofoid races for Doug Rutz in North America, and Rutz and his engine builder, Jim Richmond, came over to New Zealand from Canada. Rutz is accompanying Kofoid throughout his stay in New Zealand and a combined crew looks after the vehicles of Kofoid and Anderson in Cromwell.

Kofoid, who started racing sprintcars aged 11 and raced karts before that, is notching up an impressive list of wins in North America and breaking the odd record.

He rocketed into the national spotlight in the United States in 2016 when, as a 14-year-old, he won a preliminary feature during the Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California, and at the age of 15 he became the youngest ever winner of the Johnny Key Classic in the Civil War Series at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, California. He was also the youngest winner of a 360ci main event at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California.

Last year he won the 2018 Skagit Speedway Summer Nationals, in Washington, aged just 16.

Kofoid said he was motivated "to win", but also to achieve his goal of racing in the Nascar series.

When racing, "you don't think about things a lot when you're out there - you just do it", Kofoid said.

But when he wins, "it's pretty exciting", and great "for all the people that work so hard for you".

 - The Central Motor Speedway club championships will be rescheduled to a new date in March or April.

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