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East County Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 7 years ago

Pedal to the Medal

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Two years ago, Sasha Brun-Wibaux was sitting at home when something shiny caught her eye.

She turned around to look, and the then 8-year-old’s eyes lit up at the sight of a medal hanging from around her father’s neck. Her father, Francois, had earned the medal racing go-karts, and at that point, Sasha decided she wanted a medal of her own.

“My dad came home with a medal one day, and my eyes started bulging,” Sasha said. “I said, ‘I want to do that.’”

Sasha got an easy 60 cart and began training on the weekends with her father. Within two months she entered her first race at the Charlotte County Motorsports Park in Port Charlotte.

But the race didn’t quite go as planned.

“I was kind of nervous at first because I had only been training for a month or two,” Sasha said. “I came up to third (place), and I don’t know what happened, but I spun out. (Luckily) that’s the worst you can do, and it doesn’t hurt your or anything.”

The outcome could have been enough to cause Sasha to rethink the sport, but following the race, her father congratulated her. His praise inspired the McNeal Elementary fifth-grader to work even harder for her own medal.

And she’s well on her way. Last year, Sasha won a series in Port Charlotte and most recently finished fifth out of 22 participants in her age group at a Florida Series race.

“It’s amazing (watching her), and hopefully, these are memories she’ll cherish when she’s our age,” Francois Brun-Wibaux said. “It’s definitely created a bond between us. I can’t go to a race without her — I feel empty inside.

Now, Sasha, who races for DPI racing out of Naples, is busy preparing for her next Florida Series race, which will be held in Homestead next month. The Florida Series consists of six races throughout the state with participants earning points based on their performances.

Sasha typically races both boys and girls between ages 8 and 12 in the cadet kart category. Eventually, Sasha plans to move up to a mini max kart, which can go between 80 and 90 mph.

“It’s not as fast as my dad’s kart, but if I tried, I could maybe keep up with him,” Sasha said.

Prior to an upcoming race, Sasha typically heads to Andersen RacePark in Palmetto to practice passing, which she hopes will give her an edge come the day of the race.

“I’ve learned to be patient and just to not rush it,” Sasha said. “There’s a saying out on the track that says, ‘You can’t be the winner on the first lap.’”

Her father agreed.

“It’s taught her to mature very rapidly,” he said. “She’s good, and she’s taken to it. Now, she has a coach, so we’ll see how far she takes it.”

Sasha plans to keep advancing in the sport with the hopes of one day working her way up to Formula 1 and eventually racing some of the fastest cars in the world.

And although Sasha still has yet to earn a medal, she is more than happy with the roughly 10-12 trophies she’s earned over the past two years — the first of which she won in only her third go-kart race.

“I really like winning,” Sasha said. “It feels good to come into the pit and hearing everyone roaring with excitement because you won.”

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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