NEW PALESTINE -— Even though Kyle May, 16, from New Palestine just recently got his official driver’s license, he’s been behind the wheel of a car for quite a while.
From the time he was 5-years-old, Kyle has been driving go-kart and midget race cars. He’s currently competing as one of the top drivers in the Midwest TQ Racing League where he is eighth in the points standings.
The league hold races 20 races all over the state of Indiana from Gas City to Rushville.
It all started for Kyle when his father Wayne May, who is also Kyle’s chief mechanic and only crew member, brought home a go-kart and put Kyle behind the wheel when he was just a young kid.
“We went out and started practicing at school parking lots and my dad let me kind of drive around,” Kyle said.
That was all it took to get Kyle hooked on racing. From then on, nearly every weekend, Kyle began taking part in go-kart races in New Castle where he held his own and developed a passion for racing.
“The go-karts are really competitive especially out in New Castle,” Kyle said. “Everybody says the competition out there is at the national level.”
A few years ago Kyle and his dad transitioned into midget car racing where Kyle has steadily made a name for himself as one of the youngest, yet more competitive drivers in the Midwest TQ Racing League.
“This year I’ve been running in the top five consistently, until last week where we just ran into some weird circumstances,” Kyle said.
“There were just some things that were out of our control that hurt us.”
Despite the minor setbacks now and again, Wayne said it’s been neat watching his son turn into a real race driver and earn the respect of more experienced drivers.
“They know we’re here,” his dad said. “The first year or two people would come over and help us out here and there, but now nobody comes over.”
This year has been the turning point for the New Palestine High School junior.
“He’s had some real success this year,” his mother Lori May said.
“He’s kind of starting to make a good name for himself.”
Kyle said there is no doubt he’s made his presence known on the track.
“We learned a lot last year,” he said. “I’ve been steadily able to get a lot more seat time and we starting to do really well.”
While his mother is hoping Kyle stays with some form of racing, she wants it to be from the engineering side of things. Rather than seeing Kyle behind the wheel, she’d like to see him head to college and studying engineering so he can make a living doing what he loves.
“Eventually, I am hoping he’ll go into something that has to do with motor sports,” Lori said. “This is the only thing that I see that he is passionate about.”
Despite the fact watching Kyle race makes Lori ill, she said it’s exciting watching him do so well and is hopeful his success will lead to more sponsorship and endorsements.
“It just makes me really nervous because he’s one of the youngest drivers out there,” she said. “Most of these guys racing in his league are grown men.”
At over six feet tall and still growing, Kyle said he and his dad have had to modify their midget car in order to make sure he fits into it safely.
They’re somewhat concerned his height will keep him from having a real career as a driver because most professional racers aren’t as big as Kyle, who might be better suited for the football or basketball team.
Still, Kyle said he’s hoping his driving career progresses.
“I’d love to be able to make a living doing this,” he said. “That would be a dream come true, but there is so much luck involved in it. It is a lot about being in the right place at the right time and I know that.”
Kyle’s father knows that, as well. Having worked on race cars his whole life and been around guys who have made it to the top like Tony Stewart, Wayne said he tries to keep Kyle grounded when his son starts thinking about race driving as a way to make a living.
“Right now we’re just kind of winning enough money to get us to the next race,” his father said.
The season runs into October, so Kyle said there is plenty of time to climb to the top of the standings, something he’s shooting for. While he hasn’t won a full race just yet, the fact that he keeps hanging around the top bodes well, he said.
“We’re up there,” Kyle said. “That is the big thing and it’s just a matter of time before everything comes together and we win one or two.”