Kart racers all over the state are chasing Chase Viebrock.
And Chase is only 8 years old. Chase won the two biggest races in Wisconsin in karting's Junior Sportsman Gas Class and he won seven of eight races in a national travelling event this year.
In all, Chase raced in 19 feature races this season. He was the champion in 13 of those 19 races. He also scored wins in more than 25 heat races this season to qualify for those feature races.
Chase has two home tracks. He splits his racing between Flying Pines Raceway on Highway 8 near Balsam Lake and Thunder Hill Raceway in Downsville, which is near Menomonie.
Chase is the son of Shane and Rebecca Viebrock of New Richmond. He is a third generation racer. His grandfather, Kevin, has been racing all around the Midwest for more than 30 years and is still a top driver at Cedar Lake Speedway. Shane was was the 2005 driver of the year at Flying Pines, but this year he began to spend most of his time serving as part of Chase's pit crew.
Chase races in the International Karting Federation Region 3. He won his championship in the 8-12 age bracket in the Junior Gas Class. The high points of Chase's season were winning the two biggest races in the state. He won the King of the Dirt race at Flying Pines. At Thunder Hill, Chase won the Wisconsin Dirt Track Championship race.
Shane said that he will move Chase up a class next year, where the karts race with a bigger engine and will be fueled by methanol instead of gasoline.
With the different fuel the karts will be able to generate more power. Chase's karts will reach up to 50 miles per hour. They race a five horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine, which will put out 8-10 horsepower once it's converted into a racing engine. They will use the same karts during the winter, when they race on ice. The only difference is, instead of using the smooth tires from the one-eighth mile racing oval, they will use studded tires on the ice.
Shane said Chase showed an almost immediate interest in racing.
"He started scraping mud off his grandpa's car when he was still in diapers," Shane said.
Shane will be even busier as a pit crew member next year. Chase's younger brother, Noah, will get started with ice racing this winter before getting his own kart to race next summer.
Kart racing is a sport that is rapidly gaining in popularity. Shane Viebrock said he knows of 26 racers from the New Richmond, Somerset and Roberts areas.
"It's definitely safer than motocross, there are no knee and arm injuries. Karts are so low to the ground, you don't see them tip."
Safety is stressed in racing. Kart racers use chest protectors and protective driving suits. The helmets they use are rated safer than motorcycle helmets. Chase's kart includes a tachometer that gives lap times, engine temperature and RPM.
The Viebrocks make karting a family event. Shane mills many of the parts for the boys' karts. This year he sold five karts to new racers. Shane has started a business, Fast Factory, as he continues to outfit new kart racers.
To be a successful racer, even at Chase's age, it takes a great deal of help. He has a group of sponsors of his kart. They include Viebrock Performance Products (owned by his grandfather, Kevin), Somerset Collision, Dug Out Bar and Grill, Whiplash Graphics and Huse Racing Engines. This is the company from Bloomer that made his kart's engine. Shane and Noah, Danny Stacken and Jerry Johnson serve as Chase's pit crew.