Carley Kimball (left) and Maddy Kimball (right), South Portland students and go-kart racers, received championship wins in each of their respective leagues at Bartlett Bridge Raceway in Lyman. This was Maddy Kimball’s first championship win and Carley Kimball’s third. Courtesy photo Marena Baldwin

SOUTH PORTLAND — Sisters Carley and Maddy Kimball, students in South Portland, share a fondness for go-kart racing, and their love for the sport has fueled their success.

The two celebrated championship wins in the 2020 racing season at Bartlett Bridge Raceway in Lyman, on Nov. 8, having completed the season at the end of October.

A junior at South Portland High School, Carley has been racing for the past four years, earning three championship awards these last three seasons, she said. She is in the Senior Sportsman Class at Bartlett Bridge Raceway, which encompasses racers ages 12 and up.

Her sister, Maddy, is a seventh grader at Memorial Middle School, also a racer for the last four years, and has earned her first championship win this season, within the Sportsman Class, the division for racers ages 9 through 14, Maddy said.

“There was a lot of adrenaline and every race counted, you could say, and it was pretty close this year,” she said. “There were only six points between the person in second and me.”

The sisters gained an interest in racing through their father, Kevin Kimball, they said.

“I always grew up around the race track,” Carley said. “I would always go to races when I was younger. It was cool that I was able to do it myself.”

Carley and Maddy would race at Maine Indoor Karts in Scarborough, meeting people who would help pave the way to their championship wins, they said.

“Like my dad — he likes racing and stuff, but he doesn’t exactly know stuff about go-karts,” Carley said. “The person at Maine Indoor Karts, Bobby Barth, was there to help us. We definitely wouldn’t be able to have the speed we do to be able to win championships.”

Maddy added, “(Maine Indoor Karts) started doing leagues and then we met people who (raced) outdoors and they got us interested in it. I really liked it because I always wanted to dirt bike or something, but this just seemed so fun.”

Carley Kimball has been go-kart racing for four years, she said. When racing on the track, she feels like she “doesn’t have a worry in the world.”  Courtesy photo Marena Baldwin

Kevin Kimball said in an email that the girls have learned patience, how to win and lose with grace, and how to have respect for their fellow competitors.

The family has been racing in some variety for three generations, Kevin Kimball said.

“My dad raced stockcars at Beech Ridge in the late ’60s and I raced stockcar for years at Beech Ridge and Oxford Plains Speedway,” he said. “The girls and I would go to the races after I stopped racing. The girls seemed to be into it so I bought a couple karts. We hooked up with Bobby Barth and the Barth Brothers Racing — Bobby is a huge factor in their success. He knows the setups, adjustments, tires, everything it takes to make the karts fast. The girls listened and applied his advice to win races and have consistent top five finishes. All that together leads to championships.”

Go-karts can reach up to 40 mph, Carley said. The track at Bartlett Bridge Raceway is one-tenth of a mile.

“That may seem kind of slow, but with the size of the track, it’s pretty fast, just trying to keep that momentum going,” she said.

Carley highlighted some of the similarities and differences she’s noticed between go-karting and other sports.

“You can pinpoint who your rival is and who you’re going to compete against,” she said. “You have to think, ‘What’s my strategy to come up on top of this person?’ When I get on the tracks, I’ll be thinking, but as soon as we start racing, my mind clears and it’s more ‘Do — don’t think.’ That’s a definitely a difference (to other sports). I used to play basketball and softball and you were always thinking about something, but when racing, it just clears and it’s like you have no worry in the world.”

Maddy Kimball (front) has been racing for the last four years. She received her first championship win this season. Courtesy photo Marena Baldwin

Maddy said that she used to look up to another racer in her division, always battling with him in each race, between first and second place.

The girls discussed some challenges or setbacks that they overcame throughout their races.

“I think it was last year — someone’s cart flipped right in front of me,” Maddy said. “I got scared for the next two races after that. It held me back for a while.”

In races, the placement of one’s go-kart at the starting line can impact how the racer performs, Carley said.

“I’m not going to say there weren’t challenges, cause there were,” she said. “I think definitely one was that if we’d won the week before, they’d start us mid-pack, but this year if we won (the previous race), they would start us last (at the following race). The challenge was just trying to get to the front. My goal was to win races back-to-back. It was definitely challenging and took a little bit.”

The goal of go-karting is to have fun, Kevin Kimball said. Most participants at the track are willing to help beginners and children enjoy the sport.

“I enjoy the successes, and we use the defeats to help grow and learn how to deal with loses, use everything in a positive way,” he said. “It’s great to see how proud the girls are of their accomplishments.”

None of the students’ achievements could be possible without their sponsors, Federal Piping, Tru Pro Builders and Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club, Kevin Kimball said. Friends and family have also assisted in a great way and the track itself is supported by local businesses.

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