Cobb is a Go-Kart champion | VailDaily.com
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Cobb is a Go-Kart champion

Ian Cropp
Special to the Daily/Jeff Cobb MitchMitch Cobb, far right, works with RBI racing team members to make changes on his Go-Kart
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Local racer to compete in national seriesBy Ian CroppDaily Sports WriterEDWARDS – Mitch Cobb is one of the best drivers in the state of Colorado.And he’s only 15 years old.Last year, the Vail Christian sophomore captured the Colorado state title for Kart racing in the 80cc and 125cc junior divisions and was named the Rookie of the Year. This year, he’s participating in both the Western and Eastern Snap-on Tools Start of Karting national series. But before he starts the series that will take him to Oklahoma, Indiana, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina and other states, he’ll be racing in a winter series in Florida. Oh, and he’s already traveled all the way to Valencia, Spain, to get his license. His BMW open-car racing license.

“The first couple years he raced as a hobby, but this past year he got very serious about it,” said Mitch’s father, Jeff. “Instead of just competing when it was convenient, we set our calendar to do all the races.”And when he got serious, he got good. For last year’s season, Mitch joined the RBI racing team, which was based out of Grand Junction (the team is now based out of Phoenix).”He came to us wet behind the ears,” said A.J. Whistler, manager of RBI racing. “We took him under our wing and molded him to what we wanted. He turned out to be very responsive and had a very strong will to learn.”While Jeff had been taking Mitch to races since he was 4 years old, Mitch’s interest didn’t take off until four years ago when they went down to the Bandimere Speedway in Morrison.Next season, Mitch hopes to race in the BMW open car series. But his time in the Karting series cars will be great preparation for whatever else he decided to do.”For Mitch, there are so many different options he can choose,” Whistler said. “He can go run formula BMW cars, which is a feeder for IRL racing, or fender cars like those in the Bush National West series. The main importance is that he gets seat time in Karting.” Seat time

Mitch likely spends more time behind the wheel than the average American driver.Each race he competes in requires tons of preparation.”I’m racing the whole weekend,” Cobb said. “I’ll drive for about 10 hours a weekend. We drive the actual course for 20 minutes, but we’ll make changes to the Kart all weekend.”In a sport like Kart racing, fine-tuning the cars is essential, and what puts Cobb ahead of the competition.”If you gain a one-hundredth of a second, it’ll be good,” Cobb said of making adjustments to the Kart.Making up time usually isn’t a problem for someone like Mitch who seems to know a lot about cars.”He’s one of those kids that likes to take stuff apart,” Jeff said. “Anything mechanical, he’s always had an interest in.” Whistler is quite thankful for Mitch’s mechanical know-how.

“He adapts well and is able to do what we request on the course,” Whistler said. “Whatever we ask, he’ll change for us immediately, which is hard to change with young driver. He comprehends what needs to be done and is able to tell our engineers and mechanics what to do.”Then there’s his instinct behind the wheel.”The best thing is that he has good instinct,” Whistler said. “It’s priceless. I’d rather have a driver with the instinct like Mitch’s than a driver who just had a lot of money.”In the Karting series unlike some other racing seres, cash is not king.”The series is farily affordable, so it’s a very competitive level of racing, that’s why Mitch wanted to do it, to get that level of competition,” Jeff said. Travelin’If you are hoping to see Mitch race locally, the chances may not be too good.

“He’s too fast for local races,” Whistler said. “He can’t race anything but the national races now.”Although he’ll have raced in more states than most people can name by the end of this year, he’ll have a bit until he can actually drive to the races by himself.For now, with his permit, he can drive with an adult in the car.”Thus far, he’s not a fast driver on the street,” Jeff said. “He gets his jollies out on the track. Of course, that’s when I’m in the car with him.”And when his dad isn’t in the car?”I’ve been with him when he drives,” Whistler said. “He drives in a regular vehicle like he drive in races. He’s a good, smooth and aggressive driver. He’s a real soft spoken kid, too. He doesn’t celebrate when he wins, and it’s sometimes tough to get him to smile.”The prospect of eventually turning 16 brings a bit of a smile to Mitch’s face.”Yeah, I don’t know if it’ll be a good thing,” Cobb joked. “I might get in trouble with the cops a bit.”

Mitch has already reached speeds of more than 80 mph on course, faster than the legal limit in Colorado.For now, Mitch will just have to travel far and wide to satisfy his need for speed.And his dad is glad to be along for the ride.”It’s a blast,” Jeff said. “He’s got a race in Phoenix the weekend of spring break, so the whole family is going and we’ll make a family vacation out of it.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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