When a young athlete moves up to a new age group, regardless of sport, the expected path is one that involves at least an initial step back in success.
For two Newport Beach siblings making a name for themselves on the local go-kart scene, this sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.
Lauran and Bentley Adams each welcomed higher levels of competition this year in two of the nation’s premier karting championship clubs — Tri-C Karters and the Los Angeles Karting Championship.
Lauran, a junior at Corona del Mar High, had never competed in the 15-and-up age group before. Now, for the first time ever in official competition, she was going head-to-head with lifelong racers, some 50 years and older.
Bentley, 12, made the jump to the 12-15 age group, all the while acclimating to a larger kart on the track and his first year as a student on the CdM Middle School campus off of it.
The brother-sister duo responded to this adversity with an abundance of success, culminating in Tri-C and LAKC championships for each in their respective classes.
"It was pretty cool, because I came in not thinking I would perform as well as I did,” Bentley said. “I was thinking it was my first year in this big kart. I didn’t really know what I was coming into, but then I started winning some races, and just went from there.”
Lauran and Bentley both credit their father, Brent, with getting them involved in karting.
Brent Adams, a former racer himself, has relished the opportunity to watch one of his personal pastimes evolve into a family hobby. Watching his children thrive on the track, and starting to surpass his own talents, only adds to the enjoyment.
“Whether you do kart racing or end up watching your kid play football, baseball, horseback riding, whatever it be, it's a passion that you like,” Brent said. “You're going as fast as you think you're going to go, and then all of the sudden, I get a little bump in the back and one of these knuckleheads goes zipping by me. You think you're really good, and then you get to that point where they're faster than you. I'm super happy for them, and I'm very proud of all their accomplishments."
Lauran and Bentley are both required to perform in the classroom in order to compete on the track. Brent and their mother, Sharon, have established a firm rule: B’s and better, or you don’t race.
Bentley points to this requirement as the year’s biggest challenge.
He transitioned from Lincoln Elementary to CdM as a seventh-grader with new teachers, new classes and a bigger campus as his new environment. Bentley still managed to make the grades to claim a pair of championships, though, a proud moment for Brent and Sharon.
“They're bright children, and we know that they are capable,” Brent said. “If they want to do it bad enough, they get good grades. And they have, which is even better.”
As for Lauran, perhaps the greatest struggle is finding a balance with the demands of a racing season that essentially involves two races per month from February to October. Being a junior in high school, she has no shortage of SAT and ACT prep on her plate, to go along with her social life and involvement in clubs, student groups and a nonprofit.
There are also challenges as not only one of the youngest individuals in her age group, but oftentimes the only woman on the track. Lauran, however, has grown to enjoy this aspect.
“The guys really don't like when a girl beats them,” Lauran said. “It was difficult early in the season. I was taken out twice by the older classes, just because they didn't want me on the track as much, so I didn't finish two of the races. It's always been more of a struggle because most guys don't like getting beat by a 16-year-old girl. But I like it more because of that.”
Lauran views racing as a hobby and would like to pursue a business career, working in stocks and marketing. While Bentley expresses desire to become a Formula One racer, his height, he is 5 feet 11 as a middle-schooler, could hold him back.
Brent doesn’t push for a racing career for either. As a father, his endgame is much simpler, and boils down to spending time with his kids.
“I've been asked before, 'Where are you going with this? Do you think your kids are going to race NASCAR?' And my answer to that is no,” Brent said. “What I really want to do in the long run is get an old vintage car, a Corvette or Porsche, something like that, and be able to race all of us. All of us go run a three-hour drill, and each of us take an hour of it.”
JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell