Editor’s Note: With the outbreak of COVID-19 forcing racing around the globe to a sudden stop, SPEED SPORT is reaching out to members of the racing community to find out how the outbreak is impacting them, both as racers and in their daily lives. This story is part of that ongoing series.
CONCORD, N.C. — By the end of April, Buddy Kofoid would have been seven races into his rookie campaign with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series.
Instead, the Keith Kunz Motorsports driver will have only completed three races as he sits on the sidelines watching the days slowly click past as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stop racing dead in its tracks.
Four NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series races that Kofoid was slated to compete in with KKM, two each at Riverside Int’l Speedway in West Memphis Ark., and Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, have been canceled.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as racing across the country has been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.
Kofoid, who also had some 410 sprint car races on his schedule in his home state of California, is hopeful he’ll be able to get back in a race car sooner rather than later.
“I was gonna ride with the Keith Kunz Motorsports guys to Oklahoma and we were going to do the (POWRi) Turnpike Challenge,” said Kofoid. “Unfortunately, that got canceled, too. So I’m not sure when the next race will be for me or I guess really for most of us.”
(Editor’s Note: The POWRi Turnpike Challenge has been tentatively rescheduled for April 30-May 2)
Kofoid rocketed onto the dirt-racing scene in the last few years. He turned heads by winning a Trophy Cup preliminary race at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., in 2016 when he was 14 years old.
Since then he’s continued to turn heads, scoring marquee victories during the Howard Kaeding Classic and during Skagit Speedway’s Summer Nationals. During the winter months of 2018-’19 he enjoyed a successful trip to New Zealand that saw him win six races in seven starts.
He followed those successes in 2019 with his first Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions triumph during the Ohio Speedweek finale at Wayne County Speedway and won the track championship at Fremont Speedway.
A win in his first midget start last year at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway led to the opportunity with KKM, which saw him score a podium finish in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals earlier this year.
With that kind of momentum, Kofoid likely could be a top contender to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak bringing racing to a halt, any momentum Kofoid had is all but gone.
“It’s changing it (his racing schedule) because I will race less than what I was supposed to,” Kofoid said. “Any driver anywhere in the racing community doesn’t like that, where you race less or you go to less races than you’re supposed to.”
In fact, Kofoid hasn’t gotten to do much of anything recently due to California’s stay-at-home order, which began March 19.
“You can go out for necessities or food or if you’ve got to fill up your car or something like that I guess,” Kofoid said. “I’m just trying to stay active, work out here and there. Other than that, not a whole lot going on.”
Despite not being able to get on a real race track, Kofoid is one of the many drivers who have been going iRacing to pass the time.
In fact, he’ll be competing in Saturday’s AME Electrical Saturday Night Lightning FALS Invitational. The winner of that event will earn $2,020.
For now, it remains unknown when Kofoid will be back on the track. In the meantime, he encouraged fans to stay calm and work together to help the country and the world make it past the outbreak.
“Stay calm and stick with each other,” Kofoid said. “Try and stay healthy and listen to the media and listen to what the professionals are saying to try and stop the spread. To me, if you stop the spread, or as soon as you can, the sooner you can get to the race track.
“Just stick together. We’re all just one big racing family.”