Connor McMillan poses with this season’s car: a Ford Escort that looks slightly different than a street-ready one. Photo submitted

The youngest racer gears up for a new season of racing

Connor McMillan, at age 13, is the youngest racer at the Quincy Auto Races. Photo by Maggie Wells

It started two years ago when Connor McMillan’s parents took him to see the auto races in Quincy. Something that night got under McMillan’s skin. It looked like fun. He wanted to race.

At age 13 and in seventh grade at Indian Valley Academy, Connor McMillan is American Valley Speedway’s youngest racer.

In the race April 29, McMillan came in first in his heat and placed third in the mini stock race. He competes against adults and teens older than he is.

A quiet and unassuming young man, McMillan likes driving and thinks his 2-year-old pastime is fun and puts the money he makes raising pigs into his hobby.

Last year he raced a truck — he crashed twice. First time, he hit the K-rail and flipped the truck onto its side. Second time was a T-bone situation and he ran into someone else’s crash and spun out.

He says his parents aren’t scared; they’re supportive.

This year he has a Ford Escort, which was ready but needed modifications.

“There’s lots to do when you get it [a vehicle],” said McMillan. He had to replace fuel cells, put in a roll cage, take out the windshield, etc. For McMillan, a student who excels in engineering, building one’s own vehicle comes naturally and he takes his being the youngest racer in stride.

He has a few of sponsors and is grateful for the ones he has — Mike Vaughn and Almanor Welding and George’s Custom Meats.

McMillan looks forward to a time when he’s a bit older. American Valley Speedway lets teens race as young as 12 — but his eye is also on other races — like Susanville which lets teens race starting at age 14. He plans to keep racing as long as he can.

McMillan isn’t the only student racer. Gabby Lewis, Tyler Eckels and Colton Lawson also race on Saturday nights.

The races take place every other weekend at the American Valley Speedway in Quincy. The next one is May 20 — the Mohawk Trading Co./John Papenhausen Night.