When it comes to Mini Sprints racing Marco Island's Nicholas Snyder, 13, takes on all competitors. And often wins.
In a world of drivers, ages 13, up to 60, Snyder is known as "Heavyshoe," as he always has the pedal to the metal.
Actually, Snyder is one of the reasons the Florida Mini Sprints Association lowered the age to 13, with driving experience. He's just that good.
In a field of mostly older men, Snyder is in fourth place in the overall standings for the season.
When Mini Sprints cars had a debut showing at the Bristol Speedway dirt track in Dublin, Ga. on July 28, Snyder was the show. All Mini Sprints races are on dirt tracks.
After the first lap Snyder was in control, fending off competitors. He also navigated two crashes in the first 12 laps alone.
In the second restart Snyder, working traffic like a seasoned pro, lapped 15 of the 21 cars in the field in the next eight laps for the victory, his second of the season.
A.J. Jennejohn of bendinrules.com keeps fans and competitors up to date on Mini Sprints racing, authoring race result stories.
"I watched Nicholas go through traffic, every bit as good as any young talent I've ever seen," Jennejohn said.
Snyder moved up to the Mini Sprints after winning the 1/4 Midget Championship.
The Snyders feel fortunate to be in the Mini Sprints, with Walt Arnold of St. Augustine, the car's owner. Arnold competed until he hit a pothole that he misjudged in size, which sent his car into a roll. He sustained a serious back injury, including two crushed discs.
Arnold, owner of Walt Arnold Electric in St. Augustine, has a second car, driven by Chris Dadetti, 56.
"When they are in a race together they battle hard," Arnold said. Average speed on a 3/8th-mile track is 105 mph, and faster in the straightaways, he said.
Jennejohn already predicts Snyder will be advancing.
"After watching this 13-year-old sensation, he won't be in our graces for only three to four years," Jennejohn said.
Arnold said, "Nicholas is a great driver, he's got a goal and I'll help him go for it."
Snyder's goal is to be a professional Full Sprint or NASCAR driver.
Snyder has been racing for five years, beginning at the 1/4 Midget level.
"I had been riding dirt bikes and my friends got me into the 1/4 Midget," he said.
Snyder said he has been anxious a few times during a race, but not afraid. He likes the speed, shifting gears and the double-file restarts. Endurance isn't a problem, noting that heats are run around 6 p.m. and actual racing begins around 8 p.m.
"My parents help me get through any difficulties (with racing) and they are always there for me," he said.
Fortunately the Snyders have Arnold's highly-rated car to race. Arnold says it costs him about $40,000 a year to maintain the two cars in top racing condition.
Parents Mike and Dawn, say Nicholas is safer in one of Arnold's cars than in their own.
"When we first started we researched the cars," Dawn said. "Nicholas has all the safety equipment, including the Hans neck device. He is just as safe, or safer, than driving in my car at 75 mph."
The Sndyers still have the cost of travel, hotels, gas for the race car and new tires. On dirt tracks tires are changed every two races.
It is a 36-race season, with the closet race being on Sept. 15 at the Hendry County Sports Park in Clewiston. If someone would like to be a sponsor call Dawn at (239) 285-6151.