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Cori French steps up to UCAR competitive racing

The thirst for competition and speed is in her blood. Thirteen-year old King George Middle School 7th grader, Cori French’s dreams of becoming a race car driver are closer to reality than you might imagine. Most recently, French has moved up from dirt go-kart racing to UCAR racing. UCAR, short for “u can afford racing” has really caught on with drivers all across the country. In fact, UCAR racing has recently taking a leap of faith to become a touring series based in Raleigh, N.C.

A veteran race driver since the age of 10, Cori has always had the support of her parents. “This year she decided to compete with full sized cars, because a lot of her friends that used to race go karts are doing the same,” Scot French said. “Racing at your local dirt track is not necessarily a career stepping stone, but it is valuable experience.”

In terms of speed, depending on the size of the track, go karts and UCARs are basically on the same level, with the karts only holding a slight edge in speed. However, both vehicles are required to have restrictor plates. Restrictor plates promote safety by limiting the speed of the vehicle.

Cori’s UCAR is a 1998 Chevy Cavalier. Race teams are not permitted to do performance modifications on vehicles. Like go kart vehicles and bandolero cars, UCARS are required to adhere to all aspects of safety features (safety belts, roll cages, etc.).

The price-tag on UCARs is surprisingly less than their go-kart cousins. The average race-ready UCAR ranges from $1,500 to $2,000.

Team French is composed of Cori (driver), Scot (head mechanic), Scott Donahoe, and Darrell Ferree.
Racing UCARs since March 22, Cori is quickly getting the hang of the sport. “The goal during her first race was to become accustomed to the track, and the car,” Scot said. A few weeks later, Cori rallied from ninth position to place sixth out of 14 cars. Her ranking was the highest among new drivers, and ahead of a few seasoned drivers. “That week she showed her aggressiveness and competitive spirit, although she did make a few mistakes,” Scot said.

Due to the nature of the sport, contact between vehicles is a frequent occurrence. During the aforementioned race, Cori accidentally made contact with another car. However, after the race, she apologized to the driver.

Her last race took place on Friday, at Potomac Raceway, in Budds Creek, Md.

Cori is also a standout athlete for the King George Middle School track & field team. Her premier events include: 400-meters, 800-meters, long jump and triple jump. Thus far this year, she has won a number of 1st and 2nd place medals. She also competes in local 1K, and 5K endurance races.

While individual competition has always stood at the forefront of her athletic endeavors, she has taken an interest in field hockey.

From go kart racing to bandolero racing, Cori enjoyed a success in every aspect of the sport. She was an instant success in 2010, when she finished third in the Old Dominion Saturday Night Series (bandolero racing). During the Old Dominion Kart Series, she finished second in go-karts, while pulling off two victories (1st place) at the end of the season driving bandolero.

Also, during 2010 she was ranked 27th in the national standing, and second place in the state of Virginia. She was the top 10-year old bandolero driver in the nation.

In 2011 she placed fourth and fifth in the Virginia Dirt Karting Association Series, Light and Heavy Racing. During the same season, she finished third in the Capitol City Series, in Ashland.

Cori’s idol, top auto racing open-wheel driver Danica Patrick may soon have some competition if French continues on her path—only time will tell.

Leonard Banks
Sports editor

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