There's a bit of buzz around a new class of racing as part of the Pemberton Stockcar Association.
For the 2018 season, which began with action at Pemberton Speedway on June 16, the organization added a rookie hornet class for newer drivers to help get their feet wet in the racing world.
After the first weekend of the season, Kolton Goochey leads the overall standings, just one point ahead of Nancy Knapton.
Goochey, who will turn 17 on June 24, enjoyed his first official race as part of the group. The first race of the season had been scheduled for May, but was rained out and will be made up this Saturday, June 23.
In his inaugural action, Goochey experienced plenty of early success before his 1987 Honda Civic caused some late heartbreak.
"I got my car ready just in time and it seemed to work phenomenally until the last race when it broke down on the last lap," Goochey said. "I managed to just get it ready to get 'er going across the finish line.
"But all around, I had a great time."
Goochey is considering jumping to the 'A' hornet class before the year is done, but with many good years of racing ahead of him, knows there's no need to rush it, either. If he sticks around, he'll have his sights set on becoming the division's first-ever champion.
"Everybody's saying that I should move up, but I feel like I should stay in the rookie class for a year ... I don't want to jump the gun a little too quick and go up to A class if I'm not ready for it," he said. "I want to win the rookie class or become rookie of the year and hopefully that leads into bigger things, more sponsorships and so on."
Goochey hopes to eventually fulfil his lifelong passion and someday race cars professionally. He said adding a rookie class is a helpful stepping stone on that journey.
"I think it's a great idea because a lot of people get intimidated by the speed and everybody passing you left and right. Your adrenaline's rushing," he said. "It slows everybody down, bunches the lower classes together, and once you feel comfortable, then you can move up to the A class from rookie class. It welcomes a lot of new racers and young kids like me."
Goochey worked on his car at Pemberton Secondary School, and he appreciates the opportunity to have done so.
While Goochey was a first-timer in the stockcar game, he's no stranger to racing vehicles as he's previously had involvement with the Pemberton Off-Road Rebels and has driven quads from an early age.
"It was definitely a great help in giving me a little jump on my first year of stockcar racing," he said. "I haven't crashed yet, so I think I'm doing something right."
Goochey also thanked Jason Gadd, who provided him the Civic he's racing.
Knapton, meanwhile, raced at the speedway last season, but is enjoying the chance to find her feet at a more comfortable pace.
"I raced against the other class last year and it was scary," she said. "It was very, very intimidating and needless to say, this year was more my league and it was fun."
Knapton came away with a victory on Saturday, capturing the flag during the 20-lap race to keep her in contention in the overall standings. Celebrating her first-ever checkered flag was a particular joy.
"It was amazing," she said. "My dad was the first one that I called, because he used to race. I said 'Happy early Father's Day present.'"
While she didn't start in prime position, Knapton used some crafty manoeuvring and luck at Goochey's expense to win the 20-lapper.
"I started off third in the lineup, so I was in the middle. There was some passing and the guy that was ahead of me (Goochey) was a tough one. It was really, really close between the two of us and something went wrong at the last minute, so I was able to pass," she said. "It might be a closer race next Saturday."
Knapton said she's hoping to carry the momentum forward this week when racing begins at 7 p.m.
"It's exciting to jump right back in. I can't wait for the next race," she said. "I got a few good pointers from some of the pro guys out there, so I'll put it into action and see."
Knapton said she grew up around the racetrack, and was thrilled when her partner and fellow racer Rich Den Duyf surprised her with a pink Volkswagen Beetle to compete in.
In the hornet class, after the first race, Devon Scott and Danny Williams are tied with 35 points while Scotty Newman is just one behind. In the hobby class, Dave Hennessey leads Tim Brooksbank by a point while Scott and Nick Baninas both sit seven back.
Full results are online at www.pembertonstockcars.ca.