Brothers Score 1-2 Finish at Indy Hot Wheels™ IndyCar Jr GP
Just three days before the Indy 500, a collection of racers gathered at K1 Speed Indianapolis for the inaugural Hot Wheels™ IndyCar Junior GP presented by K1 Speed. Among the over 30 children that showed up to prove their karting pedigree were two brothers who had just made the nearly four-hour drive from their country home in Illinois. One of the brothers, 13-year-old Jacob, had only driven at a K1 Speed once at the Addison center. The other brother, 8-year-old Joshua, was about to try electric indoor karting for the first time. In a matter of hours, the brothers emerged as two of the three finalists who will go on to the championship race in San Francisco this September. How could these two brothers with little to no K1 Speed experience take top honors? Read on.
The Bolen family hails from Leland, Illinois where parents Jeremy and Amy own a tree service company. Living in the country provided their four sons with open land in which to explore four-wheelers and yard karts. While on a local tree job, Jeremy spotted a competition kart in their garage. After some bartering, Jeremy came home with the kart and put Jacob behind the wheel. His competency behind the wheel encouraged the father.
“We decided to put him in a race before the season was out at the end of 2015, and in the last five races he took three top-five finishes, a couple of them being third place,” says Jeremy. “So, I thought, ‘well, we might have something here!’ That off-season I went ahead and got my other three sons go-karts, so we just turned this into our family thing, this is what we do – some people play baseball, some people do soccer, we race. So, every weekend that’s where we’re at – we’re at the track!”
Jacob and Joshua have been racing 4-stroke outdoor competition karts at their local outdoor track in Norway, Ill for the last two years, and are now in their third year of competing. Jacob has been a natural on the track, consistently battling at the front and pursuing aspirations of becoming a professional driver. Joshua, on the other hand, has taken a more casual approach in the past, but this year the bit has been between the younger brother’s teeth and his true speed is beginning to show. So, is there is a rivalry between the Bolen brothers?
“(There’s) not much of a rivalry between Jacob and Josh,” says Jeremy. “I think Jake wants to help Josh, but also, you know, they’re brothers. ‘You can’t tell me what to do. You don’t know everything.’ And then Jake’s like, ‘well, don’t listen to me! Fine! You can be slower!’. So, I try to get them to work together. We try to walk the track together and talk. They’re brothers. Jake was happy for his brother, cos he knows how hard Josh has been working. They don’t always get along, but you know, for that event they got along. I’m hoping to see that relationship continue when we’re in San Francisco. “
Jeremy found out about the Hot Wheels™ IndyCar Junior Grand Prix from friends of the family who work at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just three days before the competition. Jeremy quickly called up the K1 Speed center in Fishers to register the boys (third-eldest Joe was just one year short of becoming their third child in the competition) and made the four hour drive the morning of the event. With a family business that needed to run during the week, wife/mother Amy stayed behind with their other two boys.
The Bolen brothers excelled in their first qualifying rounds, making it to the final qualifying round in the race to become one of three finalists.
“I think once we got to the final qualifying round, especially for my son Joshua, we were a bit nervous and we knew it was going to be close,” says Jeremy. “But, once again, my boys surprised me. Jacob started out front and finished up front, and Josh started in P3, and wasted NO time in getting P2 and that’s where he stayed for the whole race….it was a good race, and I’m proud of my boys.”
In addition to winning the all-expense paid trip to California, the finalists also scored tickets to the 102nd Indy 500, and garage passes on Saturday to meet with James Hinchcliffe, the mentor of Indy’s three finalists.
“They surprised me with the tickets to the race on Sunday and garage passes on Saturday,” says Jeremy. “So, I turned around and drove home Thursday night then worked Friday, paid the guys Friday afternoon, and then turned around and drove back to Indy. Stayed Friday/Saturday night and drove home on Sunday. It’s been a long few days, we’re still walking on water, man. We just can’t believe this one race and we’re going to California – it’s just so surreal.”
The Bolen family is turning the September California trip into a complete family vacation, with mom and their two other sons in tow.
“I didn’t take anyone with me to Indianapolis, so this time we’ll have the whole family in their cheering section, instead of me just looking like the idiot in the corner,” says Jeremy.
And how does Jeremy like the chances of his sons taking top honors in the championship race?
“I’m going in with the expectation to win. I expect Jacob to be in first, at least on the podium if not first. I know Joshua’s going to come with his A-game. It’s so exciting two of the nine kids that are going are mine. So now if I can put those two on the podium, out of those nine kids, it just validates their hard work. I’m so excited for them…it’s going to be something that we will never forget. So, no matter what happens, you know, we’re just excited to be a part of it. “
The qualifying round to determine the next three finalists takes place at K1 Speed Arlington in Texas this Thursday, June 7th. The three finalists will win the same grand prize as the three finalists in Indy but will be mentored by 2017 IndyCar Champion Josef Newgarden.
If you haven’t signed up for this event, there’s still some spots open! Call Arlington today at 817-500-5095 and get your kid signed up. They could be joining the Bolen brothers in San Francisco this September!