What’s behind you doesn’t count

CLEWISTON — Madison Kinney is a competitive driver at the Hendry County Motorsports Park, located in Clewiston. She has been spotted, racing a handful of times, and her turnin’ and burnin’ on the dirt track has become a major hobby for this LaBelle High School soon-to-be sophomore.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Fornear
CLEWISTON — Madison Kinney gets ready for her first race at Hendry County Motorsports Park.

“When I was little, I loved sitting in the race cars. I loved just socializing at the track, and never really sat and watch a race — but after the track had to close for a year, I started missing being there,” she explained. “Something in my heart was like, ‘Madison, you need to race’!” She told her father then that she wanted to race. Quickly after that, they found a car and safety gear, and Madison began racing. She started racing this year and has already competed in four races.

“What sets me apart from other drivers is that I’m only 15 years old,” she said proudly, “and a girl racer — there are not many girls that race.” She has become a role model for several local young girls. They could be seen, trackside — eyes wide as they watched Madison suit up.

“I always wanted to be a princess, until I saw Maddie race. Now, I know I can do anything! I want to be just like Maddie!” said Phoenix Hopper, while watching Madison’s first race.

“I drive a Grand Marquis, in our 4.6 class,” she explained. “My dad he helps me from giving me advice, to getting my car fixed, and showing my wrongs and my rights. He’s also my biggest fan, and part of the reason I wanted to race. He used to race, and I wanted to continue that and keep the Kinney name going in racing.” Her race number is 4, as a tribute to her father, who used to race, “His car number always had a 4 in it.”

When asked what she thinks about just before entering the track, she replied, “Before a race, what’s going through my mind is, ‘Did I check everything? Do I have everything?’ and ‘Am I ready to race?’ and lastly I Know I must do my best.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika J. Fornear
CLEWISTON — Madison and her father, Ken Kinney, discuss race strategy before a race.

“I think the most challenging thing about racing is watching what’s going on around you. Paying attention to both the person behind you and in front of you, and your surroundings, while closed-in and confined with my HANS neck device.” The HANS device is top-of-the-line safety equipment, for racing, that helps to prevent serious neck and spine injuries. She also cannot turn her head while wearing it, which makes for difficult visibility on the track. “I use my HANS device, a Zamp helmet, and a one-piece two-layer fire suit, fire safe shoes and gloves,” Madison said, pointing out her gear. She even has a small, Bluetooth-capable communication device to stay in touch with her pit crew while on the track.

“To be on the track, in my car, is amazing! You get an adrenaline rush!” she exclaimed. “ ’cause man, going on track, getting in the mud, going in the turns, and going fast in your car, it’s the best feeling, ever!”

Recently, she had a scare while racing. Her car was rear-ended and she felt it come up off the ground. Thankfully, she was wearing all her gear. She was fine, though a little shaken up, but her car sustained some major damage. They have since been able to repair the car, and Madison wasted no time getting back on the track.

“I just want to say a really big thank you to Velocity RPM, for all the work they have done on my car and helping me get started and my dad the one who makes it truly happen for me without him I wouldn’t be racing, Ken Kinney and also I want to thank my boyfriend for helping me get ready for my races and helping me get strapped in and making sure the car is good, Jordon Rosario. Thank you all so much it means the world to me to be able to do this and these are just the ones behind it all and who make it happen,” Madison recently wrote in a Facebook post.

“It was great to see Maddie turn some good laps last night. The car handled real well after being put back together by Velocity RPM. The smile on her face said it all,” said her father, Ken Kinney, the owner and main organizer of Hendry County Motorsports Park.

When asked about her goals, she said “For the future, I just hope to grow and accomplish something more and more everyday. On the track, to get better and better every time.”

When asked what advice she would give to someone who wants to start racing, she said, “For someone who wants to race the advice I would give them is to have a clear mind before each race.”

“I would like to thank my dad, my mom, my grandma, and grandpa, my boyfriend, and my friends. Also, my little brother, and all the racers and friends who have helped me and support me in racing, and helping me with my car,” Madison said.

Madison Kinney’s next race will be on June 13, at the HCMSP, located at 9985 U.S. 27 in Clewiston. Additional information is available on their website at hendryracing.com.

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