MOTORSPORT: Calliope speedster Zac Bell has been spending his school holidays fine tuning his skills ahead of a high-octane year of racing around the country.
The nine-year-old will tackle the Australian Kart Championships for the first time and is stepping up an age category in the process.
The step up will pit Zac against the big boys during the 2018 season.
"Last year he was in Cadet 9 and was the champion for Gladstone. This year he is stepping up to Cadet 12,” said father Stephen Bell.
Cadet categories are based on age, with Cadet 9 for seven to 12-year-olds and Cadet 12 from nine to 12 years.
"He's pretty good on the track and has had a lot of experience but this year we're going to do the Australian Kart Championships, which is five rounds,” Stephen said.
Competing at Aussies will require a massive commitment from the Bell family with the Championship circuit taking drivers across all corners of the country.
The competition will be held in four states with the opening round starting in Adelaide followed by corresponding rounds at Albury, Newcastle, Emerald and Port Melbourne.
"It gets pretty expensive and sponsors certainly help and we're always grateful and looking for more to help the younger kids out,” Stephen said.
"It gives him the tools and opportunities and we'll just see where it takes him.”
Feeling the need for speed runs in the Bell family with Stephen previous experience in racing rubbing off on Zac.
"I used to race cars and have always been into motorsport,” Stephen said.
"He started practising when he was six and started racing when he was seven.
"He's had an interest in it and we got him into it and he's enjoyed it ever since.
"It's a good family sport because everybody can come and enjoy it.”
Zac's favourite V8 Supercar driver is James Courtney, who won the V8 Supercar Championship Series in 2010.
Such is his admiration for the Ford-turned-Holden driver, Zac owns a JC Kart, branded and backed by the man himself.
"When you go to some of the bigger race meetings you'll see the likes of (V8 Supercar drivers) James Courtney and Chaz Mostert... it's really good for the younger kids,” Stephen said.
"They all run the same motor, a 60cc engine, and (Zac's) is unrestricted.
"In the Cadet 12 they don't have restrictor in it but Cadet 9 they do.”
Zac loves his racing but gets an extra kick from driving a kart named after his idol.
"I like him because he's a world champ and he designed the karts,” Zac said.
"I met him at the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Bundaberg and I think at Emerald.”
Gladstone will host Round 1 of the State Karts Championship in July with Zac poised to perform on his home track.
The next meet at the South Trees Rd facility takes place next month with the running of the Norton Rodgers Memorial on February 24.