AURORA — Since 2006, Aurora’s David Kalb Jr. has been honing his racing abilities on various go-kart circuits, but during the past several years, he’s graduated to full-size cars.
Kalb, 18, won a major 18 and under honor, the Rush Futures Cup, which he said was for dirt racing in a modified car in the Rush Sportsman Modified Series, which races on dirt oval tracks.
Although he said he likes racing on dirt, his future, he hopes, will be on asphalt.
"NASCAR’s still the goal, and I’m still just kind of getting my feet wet on asphalt," he said.
After three years of racing on dirt in a modified car his family owns, Kalb said he started hard-surface racing last year with financial help from Brian Erickson, an executive with Floorz, an area flooring company.
After participating in just three asphalt races last year in a Late Model series, compared with 17 dirt races, Kalb said he hopes to spend more time on the hard track this summer.
"The coronavirus situation has kind of put everything on hold until at least May," he said. "My plan is to run a full season on asphalt."
The biggest difference between asphalt and dirt tracks is that dirt tracks change with every lap while asphalt tracks don’t change, at least with the time space of a single race.
"Asphalt racing is a lot more intense for me. It’s really easy to make mistakes," he said, explaining that drivers on asphalt have to pick the fastest line and then stay as close to it as possible during the race, hugging the grass on turns and properly preparing for the bends during straightaways.
"You have to be consistent, and break in that same spot and cut the left side of the car as close to the grass as you can," he said.
On dirt, the track gets worn throughout the race; there’s more sliding around; and every lap is different, which Kalb said means the car’s set up and driver’s instincts (as opposed to strategy and planning) become more important.
Even though he plans to race on asphalt more this year, he said he’s still hoping to race on dirt on the weekends.
Racing in full-size cars is a relatively recent development in Kalb’s racing career, which dates back to 2006 when his family bought a go-kart for the first time.
Three years ago, he explained to the Aurora Advocate go-kart divisions allow faster cars as drivers age. The youngest division competes in karts that top out at about 15 mph, which is a far cry from the go-kart Kalb still plans to race in on Tuesdays this year, a shifter go-kart.
"It’s very different to drive," he said. "It’s got a six-speed gear box, and this engine can go over 100 mph. It’s very intense to be driving with one hand half the lap."
Although Kalb collected more than 30 championships in the various youth go-karting series, he said he’s hoping to focus on consistency and gaining experience rather than wins this year.
"I don’t expect to be quite as competitive on asphalt," he said.
Now that he’s 18, he also graduates to the adult divisions on dirt tracks.
"My dad and I don’t know much about dirt car set up," he said. "I just want to be consistent and show up to the dirt track with our car and have a fast car and compete."
So, on dry weekends from May until October, Kalb will be on tracks across the region, showing up, competing and learning as he works toward his ultimate goal of racing in NASCAR.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.