Pine-Richland Middle School girl wins karting championship
She's a fearless and fast competitor behind the wheel, making winning the national championship of the 2016 World Karting Association Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series seem easy for this 12-year-old girl.
Madison Campeau, a seventh-grader at Pine-Richland Middle School, has been racing go-karts since she was 5 after her dad, Jim, a motorcycle racer, introduced her to the sport.
“I like the complexity of it and the adrenaline,” said Madison, of Gibsonia.
It's not lost on Campeau and her family that racing, including karts, is a sport dominated by males. But she doesn't make a big deal about it, and neither do the other drivers, especially after winning a national cup this past summer.
“She plays it down a lot,” said mom, Michelle, about her often being the only female driver in races. “She gets respect. The fact that she's a girl is irrelevant to her friends.”
On the quest to the cup, drivers participate in a series of races at various tracks along the East Coast, including a race at the Pittsburgh International Racing track in Wampum, Lawrence County, where she “notched a win and a runner-up finish,” according to a write-up on championship winners on the WKA website.
It helps that she's “very coachable” and “consistent,” said Michelle.
Madison, who averages speeds of 60 to 65 miles per hour, said she's had a couple of crashes in the past, “but no broken bones.”
While the parents put a lot of time and effort into the sport, they make it a family affair as they have an RV and drive together to the races, pulling an 18-foot trailer loaded with her karts. Madison has three sisters and one brother, but she's the only one who races, said Michelle.
Specifically, she races a “top kart Chassis in the Yamaha KT100 sportsman class as well as a IAME mini-swift motor as well. She is moving up to the Yamaha Jr Sportsman class this year,” said Michelle, a physical therapist.
Compared to a lot of other drivers, they operate on a ”shoestring budget” and Michelle said they save a lot of money since Dad is a mechanic/tuner and can fix the karts. Michelle said they aren't sure where the future will take them – the racing future is entirely up to Madison.
Michelle noted that this eventually may lead to car racing.
In the meantime, Madison is a “straight-A student,” said mom, and she also plays soccer and the violin for the school.
Madison's parents said that racing in general is a great learning experience for their daughter.
“It teaches me focus, concentration and patience,” Madison said.
Madison will attend the annual WKA awards presentation at Daytona Beach on Dec. 27.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.