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November 22, 2014

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Henderson race car driver, 14, hopes to capitalize on local success

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Jason Reichert & the Formula F1600 Racing Series.

Jason Reichert & the Formula F1600 Racing Series

Jason Reichert & the Formula F1600 Racing Series. Launch slideshow »

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been the breeding ground for a handful of local drivers to reach the top level of motorsports.

There’s Kurt and Kyle Busch of NASCAR, truck driver Brendan Gaughan and teenage prodigy Dylan Kwasniewski of the NASCAR Nationwide series.

Henderson teenager Jason Reichert is positioning himself to follow suit.

The 14-year-old Reichert, who is a four-time go-kart champion in the Las Vegas Karting Championship series at the speedway, recently signed a one-year developmental contract with HMS Huddy Motorsports out of California. He’ll be one of the youngest drivers in the fall in the open-wheel 2015 Pacific F1600 Series.

If the incoming freshman at Foothill High continues to progress and win races, he could be on the fast track to open-wheel racing’s top level, the Indy Racing League.

“Winning a race will never get old,” Reichert said. “You have so much adrenaline racing with other good drivers.”

Reichert got his first taste of open-wheel racing last month during three days of testing at the Buttonwillow Raceway in California. It was much different than racing go-karts, especially the speed — go-karts top out at 110 mph; the F1600 open-wheel race car reaches 150 mph. Also, open-wheel cars are much heavier, but because of enhanced suspension they drive smoother.

The biggest difference was radio technology in his helmet, allowing him to communicate with a crew chief and spotter during the race.

“They told me what to do and when to do it,” Reichert said of the in-race communication. “It helped a lot. I would have made the same mistake from (the first lap) for 20 laps.”

Reichert was attracted to racing at en early age, partially because other relatives competed but mostly because of the thrill of competition.

“I was always eager to race,” he said. “I would watch it on TV, and it looked fun. I had to be out there doing it.”

Come this fall, Reichert will be the one on television.

Some of the races in the 2015 Pacific F1600 Series are televised. It’s three steps before the Indy Racing League.

“He wanted to drive since he could walk. He eats, dreams and sleeps racing,” said Tim Reichert, his father. “He was hauling tail (during the testing) and I thought, ‘Holy smokes, that’s my kid.’ As a dad, it was pretty cool.”

Jason Reichert is scheduled to race in about 30 weekends this season, including returning to defend his title in the go-kart league at LVMS.

“I’ll race anything they put in front of me,” he said.

But he won’t be driving himself to Foothill in a few weeks for the first day of school. He’s still two years away from getting a driver’s license.

“They’ll let me drive a race car, but they won’t let me drive in the street,” he joked.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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