SONOMA (KPIX 5) — Among the racers descending on Sonoma Raceway for upcoming back-to-back weekends of NHRA drag racing are drivers who are years away from getting a driver license.
Seven-year-old Bentley Raab says he has been drag racing for quite some time.
“I’ve done it for…I don’t know how long, but a pretty long time,” said Bentley. “Maybe a month? I don’t know.”
In fact, the youngster from Napa has actually been driving for about a year and half. He even owns his own dragster, built for him by his grandfather — longtime drag racer Mike MacBrair — who himself began racing the day he got his license at age 16.
“I snuck my mom’s car out there and ran it down the quarter mile,” said MacBrair with a laugh. “She didn’t know about it, but I did.”
To a novice, hitting two G’s in the blink of an eye literally takes your breath away. It feels pretty dangerous, so you may be surprised to see elementary school age kids doing it.
But the NHRA offers a program where kids ages 5-17 can race half-scale dragsters. The cars may not look quite the same, but adjusted for Bentley’s age, it’s still pretty impressive.
So is his knowledge of the car itself.
“This is whatever the heck it’s called,” said Bentley. “This is the pipe that brings all the smoke out of my car.”
Bentley competes against other kids his age and says he has already won one first place, three second places and “zero” third places.
“This is kind of ordinary, actually,” said Bentley.
A surprising statement from a seven-year-old boy. But when asked if drag racing was ordinary for most kids, he replied, “Well, no. Most kids just lie around on their couch watching TV.”
But Bentley can’t just lie around; in his mind, he has to keep ahead of the competition. Especially now that his five-year old brother Tiegen is learning to drive as well.