Racing in his father’s path
Published 7:50 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Merrell Carr Jr. wins every race in vintage Go-Kart contest
MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
A 58-year-old Ivor native who won his first Go Kart race with a 1962 model car when he was 10, recently entered a vintage Go Kart race with the same model vehicle and won first place in every race at the Nicholson Racetrack in Chestertown, Maryland.
Racing a restored Go Kart exactly like the one he took top honors with when he won as a youngster, Merrell Carr Jr. took first place in all three races, plus first place for having the best restored car and first place for having traveled the longest distance to race.
“My dad would have enjoyed this,” Carr said with a wide grin. “He used to race himself, loved racing and won most of the time. And I’m pretty sure he hoped that I would follow in his footsteps.”
Carr remembered how he and his father, now deceased, would congregate with a group of race fans in town and race their karts.
“This was in 1962 and about that time, Edgar Lowe and Elton Raiford bought brand-new identical Go Karts. Some of the guys — Joe Barnes, Edward Neave, Robert Rawls and my dad — practiced racing the karts late at night on the street in front of Marvin Pulley’s hardware store. My dad usually raced Edgar’s kart.
“Of course, I learned to drive the cars as well as the older guys, so in 1971, they let me race in competition at the Blackwater Racetrack in Franklin. I won and I think that was when I realized how much I enjoyed racing.”
Carr said that over time the race fans turned to other types of racing and Go Karts were given up.
A few years ago, however, he heard about a vintage race car association holding races.
“I wondered if I could possibly put my hands on the Go Kart my dad used to race?” Carr said.
Well not the one, but close. A former neighbor of the Carr family, Phil Neave, just happened to have not Edgar Lowe’s, but Elton Raiford’s Go Kart in his garage.
When Neave learned of Carr’s interest, he gave the car — which Raiford had given to him — to Carr.
“It was a mess, but I was pretty sure I could restore it,” said Carr. “Only trouble was, it had no engine.”
Once again, though, luck smiled on him. Neave did not have Lowe’s car, but he had the engine that powered Lowe’s car — a perfect fit for Raiford’s car.
It took about two years to restore the vehicle, the young race driver said.
“I cleaned it up, painted it and rebuilt the engine, a MC40 Mulloch racing engine.”
This is an art Carr also inherited from his father.
“I was kind of proud when I took the trophy for best restored car,” he admitted with a smile.
As for the race, the Grand Slam winner said he felt good about how things turned out. After his qualifying run, he started from the pole position for both the second and third races, which he won. He estimated that from 65 to 75 cars participated.