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Karting with girl power

Burnaby 12-year-old is way ahead of the curve

Sara Brinkac of Burnaby is racing into the slipstream of three of B.C.'s most famous karters.

The 12-year-old Buckingham Elementary School student recently won the Western Canadian minimax championships in her first season of competition behind the wheel of the 12 horsepower Vemme kart.

In just her fifth year of competitive karting, the precocious redhead is also just one point behind the current runner-up in the eightrace Pacific Northwest Gold Cup series, racing in a smaller CRG kart. "She's just a little firecracker. She's got the race blood," remarked Brinkac's karting coach and tuner George Fellner, the founder of Checkered Flag Racing in Chilliwack. "She wants to learn the racecraft, the set-up, and feedback on how the car is handling. She has that part, and if you don't have that, you're just making laps."

No one in karting could describe Brinkac as a weekend racer.

As a nine-year-old, Brinkac had one of her proudest moments, receiving the most improved junior award in 2007 in just her second season of racing at the Westwood Karting Association track.

Greg Moore, B.C.'s most famous homegrown racing talent, won the same award in 1986 as a 19-year-old.

Another Stars of Karting national winner, Jordy Vorrath, was the recipient of the most improved award at age 14 in 1995.

Five-time Greg Moore memorial award winner as the fastest karter, Michael Valiante of Burnaby, won the first of his many awards at Westwood when he was a 14-year-old.

In comparison, Brinkac was the runner-up points leader in the B.C. Karting Association eight-to-12 age group regional championships when she was just 10.

Last year, Brinkac placed second in the Gold Cup series.

"I like the speed and everything, and just being on the track with everybody. It just feels right to be out there," said Brinkac.

That feeling first took hold of Brinkac as a six-year-old, when her father took her for a spin at a karting track in Richmond.

"My dad was driving, and I was sitting in the passenger side, and I said, 'I'd like to do this,'" she said.

Brinkac had to wait two more years before she was officially old enough to get behind the wheel of a kart, but on her eighth birthday, her wish for a solo spin at Westwood was granted.

After an uneventful first year of racing, Brinkac's talents and involvement began to pay off.

"(Brinkac) is one of my best students. She is so determined," said Fellner. "As soon as she comes off the track she wants to know where she can improve."

Brinkac walks the track prior to competitions to familiarize herself with the turns and elevation gains. She also studies her competition and their driving habits.

"I'm not an overly aggressive driver. I don't like to take a lot of risks. But sometimes I get in a position where if I did, I know I'm going to stick it and just make a wreck of it," she said. "I've had accidents and I go back to race two weeks later and it doesn't bother me. But, it's a risk you have to learn. Sometimes it's a thrill."

At the recent Westerns, Brinkac showed her maturity, driving a smart race and finishing in second place to win the overall title, rather than pushing the envelope for a run at the checkered flag.

"I remember that race. I was right behind first place and my motor was just screaming. I could hear it and I was going to take a run at him. I knew I could whistle by him, but I knew if I did there was a chance I could mess up. It was hard for me. I wanted to get by him, but if I had, it might not have been pretty," Brinkac said.

As a result of her driving acumen, Brinkac qualified to race against 80 karters in the Cadet Rok class at the Superkarts 15 held in Las Vegas in November.

The family is looking for sponsorship. If you would like to help out, email

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