The Discovery Bay resident fondly recalls a photo of Donovan, as a toddler, under his grandfather’s 1955 Ford F-100 truck. So far, Donovan is on the right track. Now 9, he recently earned his first win in the Western Scale Racing Association Minicup Trophy Dash behind the wheel of a car half the size of a NASCAR model.
“It’s entertaining,” said Donovan, who is about to enter the fourth grade at Knightsen School. “You can drive a car and most other kids can’t.”
After tearing up the quarter midgets circuit, Donovan moved up to the WSRA Minicup division this year. He took his first-ever checkered flag at the Trophy Dash in Roseville, racing against kids three or four years older.
Behind the wheel of the No. 24 car – just like his favorite NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon – Donovan can reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour, while most kids his age are still riding bicycles. He has raced in Las Vegas, as well as tracks all over Northern California, including Livermore, Shasta, Roseville, Madera and around Sacramento.
“I’ve been overwhelmed,” Michael said. “He keeps surprising me with how he reacts and how he’s been with his racing so far.”
Donovan started racing quarter midgets – open-wheeled dirt cars – when he was 4. Along the way, he and crew chief Michael have enjoyed strong support from local sponsors in Brentwood and Discovery Bay. Donovan’s next race is slated for July 9 in Roseville.
The father and son work as a team, communicating by radio just like the pros do every Sunday. Michael must be equal parts coach and listener, as only Donovan can tell how the car is running.
So far this year, Donovan leads the Rookie of the Year standings in the Minicup division – one of his major goals. The other major goal was satisfied at the Trophy Dash. After he lofted his prize above his head, two trophy girls kissed him on each cheek. He excitedly told his dad that he didn’t even need to ask for the kisses.
“I was pretty fast, so I was hoping I was going to win,” Donovan said. “I was really excited.”