Maria Cofer is now a rising star in the Midget ranks and a part of the Toyota Racing Development program. Over the past week, however, Cofer has gone back to her roots by competing with the Outlaw Karts at Millbridge Speedway (NC) ahead of Wednesday’s QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport.
The 2017 Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets Champion took the pole for the Speed51 Open in 2016. However, Cofer’s time in karts has been limited since that race, and her appearance in last week’s Prelude to the Speed51 Open was her first in three years.
However, the Macdoel, California native couldn’t pass up the chance to return to Millbridge and compete for the $5,151 grand prize.
“I haven’t been in a kart in three years,” Cofer told Speed51. “It’s just an awesome facility. The people out here are so great. The track is really fun to run. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s a super-big attraction for us on the West. We have Cycleland, which is pretty dang cool, but nothing like Millbridge.”
Cofer admits the return to the Outlaw Karts has been a bumpy transition, with a little rust to knock off from her time away.
“Definitely a little bit rusty. I think, just more laps, and hopefully we’ll be back to riding that bike soon.”
In last week’s Prelude, Cofer piloted a Factory QRC entry typically raced by Jimmy Elledge at the 1/6-mile oval. For the Speed51 Open, she is in her own kart, which offers more familiarity, but she still knows beating some of the best Outlaw Kart racers in the country will be a challenge.
“We’re going to try,” Cofer said. “We’re going to give it our best shot. I’ll be back in my own kart, which will be a little more comfortable for me. We’ll see what happens.”
Open-wheel racing such as the Midgets Cofer now routinely pilots doesn’t lend itself to heavy contact. However, she says the close-quarters racing and nine-second laps of Outlaw Kart racing have been pivotal in preparing her for climbing the racing ladder.
“You’ve got to be quick on your feet,” Cofer explained. “You have to be really, really responsive. Your eye-hand coordination is on point when you’ve been running these things.”
Cofer will be one of more than 40 racers in action Wednesday night in the QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport. Fans unable to make it to Millbridge Speedway on Wednesday night can still catch all of the action via Speed51’s live pay-per-view broadcast of the event.
Click here to order your video ticket now for Wednesday’s event.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo