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Small cars, big dream

Danville boy races to victory

While many kids spend their weekends playing video games, one Danville boy is tearing it up on the track with aims of being the next Jeff Gordon.

Eight-year-old Colin Mullan, a second grader at Greenbrook Elementary in Danville already holds one record, for fastest lap time by a junior novice. He won that in 2008, his first year racing, and earned himself a red jacket with his name and lap time on it.

"Yeah, I really like to race," Colin said. Aside from winning trophies, his favorite part of the sport is "passing and going fast."

Colin's dad, Dan Mullan, said his son's fascination with racing began when he was just four years old.

"I had NASCAR on TV," Dan Mullan. "It started from there -- he was obsessed with NASCAR."

In 2008, a friend told Dan about a Livermore track for quarter midget racing, using cars that are a fourth the size of the cars used at NASCAR event with top speeds of a little over 20 miles an hour. One look and it seemed Colin was hooked.

"He knew right after his first training class that he wanted to do this, Dan explained, adding, "Jeff Gordon started in quarter racing."

Colin went through training to race in junior novice class and took his first first place just three races after starting.

"They consider it the little league of NASCAR and Indy car racing," Dan explained.

In 2009, Colin went up in speed and size to Junior Honda and Junior Stock. Dan said Colin prefers Junior Stock because "it's louder and goes faster."

He finished fifth in Junior Honda and third in Junior Stock.

"Every race he just gets better and better," Dan said, a hint of pride in his voice.

Colin's mom, Deborah said it's important that Colin has a balanced life that doesn't focus exclusively on racing. Colin has tried soccer and is in Little League as well. But, she added, "If he has a bad day, I say to him, 'Let's got to the track.'"

Dan said the days at the track are long but family oriented.

"The typical race day starts with qualifying in the morning, then they have a heat race, then they go into the main event," he said, explaining that points are awarded for each, and as with NASCAR, the total point winner is the winner that year. "We're all helping out, nobody gets paid to do this."

That means moms working the flags and dads bent over engines. And if a car breaks down, getting it back into the race is a joint effort

"Everybody helps you out," Dan said. "There's half a dozen dads trying to fix that car to get it out on the racetrack."

Deborah said she's comfortable with her son racing, especially because of the safety precautions taken, including full roll cages, multi-point seat harnesses, full-face helmets and wrist restraints.

"The safety factor is really important to me," she said. "I've seen a few cars flip, the kids get out of the car -- they get back in and they're OK."

Deborah is a little hesitant about Colin's next move up, to cars called minicups. Those are half-sized cars that look and perform like full-sized NASCAR cars, with speeds up to 75 mph.

"They go as fast as me on the highway," she said.

While she and Dan said they'll both support Colin as long as he wants to do this, Deborah's been paying some particular attention to NASCAR drivers these days.

"Seeing some of the rookies out there, they're starting out, they're 18," she said. "In ten years he could potentially be out there."

More pictures of Colin can be seen here

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