TOLEDO, OH (WXYZ) - Jeremiah “JT” McClintock is a big deal in a very small car. The Commerce Township man is one of the top amateurs in Formula-125 “shifter kart” racing in America.
These aren’t quite the “Go Karts” you’re probably thinking about. “It’ll go upwards of one hundred miles an hour if we gear it right,” JT says. “Our average speed is 60 miles an hour. It’ll do zero to 60 in 3 ½ seconds.”
JT is an engineering student and racer at Western Michigan University. Racing and cars are in his blood, because of a head on crash that happened before he was born.
“It was 1985, January 30th,” Jeremiah’s dad Mike says, cradling a photo album jammed with pictures of a horrible wreck. “This van right here turned right in front of me and I was doing 50 miles an hour. It took them 45 minutes to cut me out of that thing.”
It took Mike McClintock a year to recover. He carried the scars of that crash with him from the hospital; scars and a determination to become a better driver. So he took up racing. His wife took up racing. When JT and his sisters were born, they began racing, to become safer drivers.
“To know what to do is the key,” Mike McClintock says pointing at the Toledo raceway beyond his trailer. “ Because out there you’re gonna do things you’re not going to do on the street. But when it happens to you on the street you’re going to know what to do.”
So racing became a McClintock family affair and JT took it to the extreme. “The past four years I’ve been first twice and second twice at nationals,” he says, not quite comfortable having to list his own accomplishments.
Jeremiah plans to finish his engineering degree at WMU in the next year or so and would like to get a job with an automaker. Not as an engineer, but as a racer or test driver. And that’s fine with his dad.
“Let’s get the engineering degree first,” Mike McClintock laughs, “then let him spend his money to do the racing.”
Jeremiah is well on his way. He blew away the competition this weekend in Toledo, including his dad.