In her third year of quarter midget car racing, Kennedy Ramirez has set her focus on winning a series championship, and midway through the season she sits at the top of the standings in two of the six quarter midget race series where she competes.
Kennedy, a 10-year-old going into the sixth grade at Jefferson School, took up racing when she was 5, and within a couple of years she was ready to go for the season championship trophies. Her dad, Kenny Ramirez, has set aside plenty of space for her trophies and medals in his office at Premier Sign Installations on Carmelo Avenue.
Her success so far this year includes a string of wins in the American Quarter Midget Association series, which runs at Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area in Rancho Cordova.
Kennedy is the top racer out of 14 competitors in the Senior Honda class. She has won three of the five events so far in the 10-event series, and she tied for first in the opening round and took second place in the most recent event May 26.
She has some close competitors in the series, which continues until mid-October, but she has enough experience now to be confident on the track.
Kennedy also leads one other competitor in the Senior Animal class after five events, winning each of her events so far.
In the Tri-Valley Quarter Midget Association series, which operates its own track on Northfront Road in Livermore, Kennedy is third out of six drivers in the Senior Animal class after four races in the eight-race series, and she’s seventh out of 12 drivers in the Senior Honda class.
She got into racing after seeing her dad and her older brother, Hayden Stone, racing sprint cars. She turned out to be a fast learner.
“It was a little nerve-wracking because you didn’t know what you were supposed to do, but after a while you got used to it,” she said, adding that it’s also gratifying to defy expectations each time she collects the checkered flag. “I could show my skills and I’m strong enough to do things that boys think girls can’t do.”
Kenny Ramirez has set up two cars for Kennedy, with the motors the biggest difference between the two. The car with the Honda 120cc engine, which she drives in the Senior Honda class, goes up to 30 mph, fast enough for exciting races on the 1/20th-mile oval tracks at Prairie City and Livermore. The car with the 6-horsepower Briggs & Stratton motor, which she drives for the Senior Animal class, goes up to 35 mph.
“It’s not difficult once you get used to them, but if you just got into a new class and you have a new car it’s harder, because both of my classes are competitive,” she said.
She also drives both cars in the California Monza series. She is in third place out of six racers in the Senior Animal class after two of six races, and she’s in fifth out of 13 racers in the Senior Honda class. That series runs statewide, with the first two events in San Bernardino and Madera and upcoming events in Livermore, Rio Linda, Rancho Cordova and San Jose.
Kenny Ramirez said he can’t help but encourage and support Kennedy’s passion for racing.
“She has to be responsible. She has to communicate with me with how the car is handling, what the car’s doing, if it’s tight, loose, not set up right. We have to dial it in,” he said. “She has other competitors that she also has to be careful for. The competitiveness is fierce. They’ll bond out there. That’s the biggest thing. They might race on the track, but after the race they’re all playing, riding bikes together and eating, doing what kids do.”
Kennedy is also confident about where she is heading in the sport, with no limits in sight.
“My goal is to go to a higher level in racing, like go up to NASCAR and be like Hailie Deegan and Danica Patrick.”