Issac Wells: I am speed

Eureka’s very own freshman Isaac Wells is ranked first overall in junior Go-Kart racing. Out of 1347 junior racers from both USA and Canada, Wells holds the number one spot as of July 2022, making him the top junior racer in the country.

In 2021, Wells was recognized by Gateway Kartplex and Briggs and Stratton Racing for being the #1 Junior for most points accumulated in North America and was World Karting Association (WKA) Grand National Jr. Winner.

However, his success dates back even farther with Dash at Daytona Winner at the Daytona Speedway and Battle at the Brickyard Winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2020, and Recipient of the Gateway Kartplex Racing Forward Young Driver Award in 2019.

Wells has 30 wins, 75 podiums, and 2 Gateway Kartplex Points Championships. At fifteen years old and after only three years of racing.

But his successful journey began simply with watching TV. As go-kart racing isn’t a typical sport all children are involved in, Wells attributes his love for the sport to his fascination with watching Formula 1.

Formula 1 is the world’s most popular and prestigious racing competition, spanning from March to December in 21 countries.

“I had a huge passion for racing and especially Formula 1. I started watching it and started getting involved and loving racing more. When I started I had a coach who told me to actually just watch Formula 1, like overtaking and passing and stuff, to get to know the sport better and to get better in general,” IsaacWells said.

However, Wells’ dad believes his passion began farther back, when Wells was young.

“As a little guy he always loved going fast. Even as a toddler riding a tricycle, he always had a track setup in the backyard. He’d practice lap after lap trying to get faster. Nearly everything he did was focused on going fast,” Brendan Wells, Isaac Well’s dad, said.

Flash forward a few years, the Well’s vacationed at the Lake of the Ozarks. Brendan Wells took his family to the Gran Rally track, a landmark that had brought lots of fun to his childhood as well. Isaac Wells’ family was shocked when he not only won the race, but beat his competition by half a lap.

After their vacation, it became apparent that Wells needed to be on a race track. His family surprised him with a go-kart for his 12th birthday and entered him into a few races. It did not take long for his success to begin.

“He participated in the last 2 or 3 organized races of the year that fall. The following season, his first full season of racing, was a success. He won 10 races or so and won the Gateway Kartplex series points championship,” Brendan Wells said.

Before he found racing, Wells jumped from different sports to try and find his niche. However, after the fun experiences go-kart racing brought him, he knew it was the sport for him.

“I’ve played a lot of sports in the past, I swam on Rockwood, I was a soccer player when I was really young, but I had a huge passion for racing and I love cars so much, so I thought this would be the best sport ever,” Isaac Wells said.

Go-kart racing is all about minute details, so practice is essential to Wells’ success.

“At home, I have a little steering wheel, so I play a lot of racing games or eye racing or F1 games, those are a great way to practice. Or staying in shape in general, like swimming. It’s a great way to stay in shape, and not get exhausted because it is actually tiring,” Isaac Wells said.

Some skills, however, Isaac Wells had before ever stepping foot onto a track.

“Focus comes to mind. To be consistently fast in a kart you have to have good focus. Isaac is a swimmer too and that’s been incredibly helpful with respect to his endurance,” Brendan Wells said.

Although it may seem that racing may not be exhausting for the driver, it can be very mentally and physically draining.

“Mentally exhausting is a factor, so just knowing if you want to pass someone or when you wanna do something, you have to have all of this in your head. Or how you want to take a race. Or the steering wheel itself, the steering wheel can be really hard to turn and it takes a lot to turn it itself,” Isaac Wells said.

As his home track is located out past the river, Wells needs lots of support to get both to and from the track as well as keeping up with school and the maintenance of his kart. Which is why his family is so important to his success.

“My dad is usually the one tuning the car, and sometimes I like to help him, but he’s usually the one doing the work. And my mom is usually the one to make all the meals during the races. And my sister comes sometimes, but they all support me,” Isaac Wells said.

Brendan Wells agreed, stating that his family has backed Isaac Wells in every way they could.

“As long as he wants to race, we’ll support him to the best of our ability. It’s really a family sport in that I am responsible for preparing the kart to race and Mrs. Wells wears pretty much every other hat. Isaac’s sister, Peyton, is his biggest supporter. She travels all over with us when swimming or school doesn’t get in the way,” Brendan Wells said.

But this support doesn’t come without heavy emotion. Anxiety spurs both from Isaac and his family before big races.

“Supporting Isaac is a lot of fun. It can also be very intense from an emotional standpoint. In racing, similar to other sports, there are highs and lows. A driver can go from leading a race to being involved in an incident or experiencing a mechanical failure in a split second. Having been involved in both of those scenarios, it’s definitely a roller coaster of emotions,” Brendan Wells said.

Go-Kart racing, like all high-speed races, comes with several warning labels. Crashes are common, and despite the safety factors put in place, there is always a level of risk when entering a race.

“There are a couple of concerns for us. The speeds are fairly high. I think Isaac’s top speed at Daytona was approaching 75. Aside from that, karting is a bit like riding a motorcycle in that you don’t have a seat belt. The downside to no seatbelt is you can be thrown from the kart. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened for us and is pretty rare,” Brendan Wells said.

Racing competition is stiff, especially in the USA junior division, making the sport that much more difficult.

“There’s a lot of competition in go-karting and it’s not usually a team sport, usually you don’t have a lot of other people to work with or people to give you tips. In order to be faster, you have to know so many tiny little details and tricks on the track,” Isaac Wells said.

But for Wells, this just adds to the fun of the sport, and he can’t imagine doing anything else.

“It’s really fun, it’s the funnest sport ever. Once you get to know the other races, you can chat with them, you can just hang out with them and just have a good time. I generally have a really fun time learning all the new tracks and all the new setups,” Isaac Wells said,

He warns that go-kart racing is not for the faint of heart. It requires skill and bravery and grit. And it’s most definitely not a game.

“Obviously other sports require physical effort like running or kicking a ball, but the way the sport works, it’s a technique for driving. It’s different in that kind of way like you’d expect. You definitely need hand-eye coordination and you just have to have the talent for racing. As far as what people need to be, don’t be reckless. It’s not like bumper cars,” Isaac Wells said.

And his dad believes that it comes with other challenges that other sports may not present.

“Like most sports these days, things are expensive. Tires wear out, engines wear out, parts wear out and accidents happen so things break and have to be repaired. In addition to mechanical expenses there are also race fees and travel expenses,” Brendan Wells said, “Karting is also a fair bit of work from a logistical perspective. Transporting the kart, parts and tools across the country isn’t always easy.”

However, the sport creates great opportunities and life-long skills other sports aren’t capable of.

“I think it teaches focus, patience, strategy and respect. For sure it’s a great tool to learn to deal with success and failure properly. There’s a lot of mechanical knowledge there that the kids pick up on too,” Brendan Wells said. “Overall, it’s a fantastic sport for people of all ages.”

For Wells, racing is just what he does; it’s how he has fun, makes friends, and lives his life. And he hopes that he continues to get better.

“To have fun really is the biggest reason I race and just hang out with friends, and just to get better in general,” Issac Wells said.