EAST COUNTY — Every time he steps onto the track, 8-year-old Conner Dutting-Morrell has one goal in mind — winning.
The Rowlett Elementary School third-grader began racing when he was 5 years old, and since then, Conner has been traveling across the country with the hopes of winning a United States Auto Club National Series championship.
Conner, along with 10-year-old teammate Danny Sams, recently finished his first season racing quarter midget cars in the USAC National Series. Conner competed in two divisions, the senior animal class and the light 160 class, finishing eighth and ninth in the nation, while Danny finished fifth and ninth in his respective divisions.
“Winning is my favorite part,” says Conner, who has won a handful of races, including one national race. “You get to hold the checkered flag and drive around the track.”
Conner and Danny met several years ago at the local track in Tampa. The two boys discovered they both had a passion for racing and began traveling across the country together competing in various races.
Like Conner, Danny began racing when he was 5 years old. The sport proved to be challenging at first, but, within a year, Danny had mastered how to maneuver around the track.
“It was the best thing,” Danny says. “It was a lot of fun because you get to go fast.”
Danny won his first national race about two years ago. At the time, Danny thought he had a chance to win, but it wasn’t until he crossed the finish line at his local track that the reality of his accomplishment hit him.
“I was so happy,” Danny says. “I remember shaking my fist in the air like, ‘Yeah!’”
This year, the two competed in their first season of the USAC National Series. Conner and Danny competed in nine of the 15 races on the USAC National Series circuit and traveled to Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Connecticut, among other states, to compete.
“It’s a team sport — it really is,” says Conner’s father, Allen Morrell.
“The kids learn from each other,” Danny’s father, Danny, says. “It’s such great competition.”
Over the course of the season, the two boys competed against the sons of some of Nascar’s most prominent names, including Jeff Burton.
“It gives me a challenge and helps me do (well),” Danny says.
When the boys aren’t racing their quarter midget cars, which go between 40 and 50 miles per hour, Conner and Danny spend their free time racing dirt karts at Dirt Devil Speedway in Tampa.
With their first season behind them, Conner and Danny will take a few months off before returning to the track again in March. Next season, they say they hope to compete in all of the USAC National Series races on the schedule.
Eventually, Danny has aspirations of competing in the fast truck and mini- sprint, car-racing series.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].