What started as a second-place finish in Day One of racing turned quickly to a disappointment for young Filip Niemkiewicz, of Breckenridge, who found himself disqualified in the final day of go kart racing in the Rotax Challenge of the Americas series, which concluded March 10.
An air filter that had been previously approved by officials in the 9-year-old's go karting career caused the disqualification. He'd finished in second place in the second day of racing, just .05 seconds behind the leader. He raced to the fastest time on the track of the whole weekend - 56.95 was Filip's time and the fastest before that all weekend had been 57.2. And he and the leader were far ahead of the rest of the pack - we're talking about 8 seconds.
"Filip drove so incredibly fast, only one guy could stay with us, the leader - he was right with him everywhere," Filip's father, Sebastian Niemkiewicz, said. "If only he had not gotten that disqualification at the end."
In the final race of the series, Filip led four times before finishing second, only to be disqualified.
"Filip was really devastated," Niemkiewicz continued. "He gave 110 percent over that weekend. He drove incredibly. Others were way behind him. Usually, it's close by a few hundredths of a second, but the leader and Filip were running away from anybody else by up to 8 seconds."
Though disappointed, Filip's spirits perked up when the third-place finisher, who was bumped into second with Filip's disqualification, handed the second-place trophy over to his competitor, Filip.
"He said, 'This is really your trophy you won on this track,'" Niemkiewicz said, explaining that Filip's peers saw him as a winner, even if the officials did not. The boy's name was Anthony Willis, from Arizona.
Filip and his father kick off the spring season with the Rocky Mountain Series in Centennial in April before attending the U.S. Grand Nationals in Mooresville, N.C., to try to earn points for the Rotax World Finals in New Orleans. The disqualification cost Filip 110 points that would have qualified him for World Finals, his father said. For the first time in the history of the world finals race, the micro max go kart will be allowed to compete, and Filip and his father plan to attend.