Gage Walker Steps to New Levels in Memorable 2017 Season
By Jessica Jenkins
2017 was a year to remember for Gage Walker as he reached new heights in key events, picked up a win and continued to hone his skills on a variety of tracks with a handful of series. Primarily driving his family owned #7, the talented midget racer also ran a handful of races for Bill Ecker's #57 RAB Racing team and spent one race with Roger Mason's #47.
The year started out with a bang as Walker enjoyed his best ever week at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in his fourth appearance. Taking a new car to the premier event, Walker drove to a tenth place result on his qualifying night to put himself within reach of Saturday's A Main. He was in position to move on before an incident towards the end of the B sent him to the tail for a charge back up through the field, missing out on one of the coveted transfer spots by only a few positions in by far his best Chili Bowl result to date.
A two month offseason ended in March with DuQuoin's Shamrock Classic and a thirteenth place finish that was followed a few weeks later at the Kokomo Grand Prix to kick off USAC's season with a pair of Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher Awards. Montpelier in mid-April yielded a top twenty finish followed by a return three weeks later to Kokomo that ended in a fourth place finish, his first top five of the year. Walker's next sanctioned race was his POWRi season debut at Macon in May, picking him up another thirteenth place finish before heading back to Kokomo for an eighth place result. June brought five nights at USAC's Indiana Midget Week that were highlighted by a seventh place finish at Bloomington as part of four feature appearances that week (engine trouble in the #47 short-circuited them making the Feature at Montpelier night one).
July opened with USAC for three straight nights in Illinois that resulted in a fourteenth place on night one at Macon and wrapped up with seventh place in Springfield. Night two Walker was lightning fast in the RAB Racing 57 as he qualified eighth fastest and nearly walked away with the semi before an issue in the motor that cropped during the heat returned and removed him from competition. The following weekend he returned with RAB Racing in Wisconsin for POWRi's Pepsi Midget Nationals in Sun Prairie, WI, just missing a top ten in the feature. Walker waited just under two months to return with Bill Ecker's team for a Badger midget event at Angell Park in early September. The then 19 year old quickly established himself as a contender in the heat before pulling away to claim his first win with the 57 team. Back-to-back POWRi shows in Central Illinois during September at Jacksonville and Spoon River wrapped up his five starts with RAB Racing and gave him two more finishes just outside the top ten heading into a one month break. Strapping in for his sixth Kokomo appearance of the year, Walker ended his race season on a very high note while finishing runner up to Shane Cottle in the Kokomo Klash.
With a total of 17 feature appearances in 21 starts, Walker's average 2017 finish topped out at 10.9, just above his average start of 12.8. One win, three top fives and six top tens joined the Chili Bowl as his best finishes of the season. A second place qualifying run at the end of May in Kokomo and his top ten qualifying speeds with USAC at Midget Week and July's Lincoln appearance showed the quick pace he had throughout the season. The Fairland, IN racer couldn't have accomplished all he did without the support from his sponsors Spike Chassis, Impact, Walker & Sons, Wilwood Brakes, Business Art DeSigns, Access Mobility and Superior Bearings.
Gage Walker now looks to continue his momentum into the new year at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. To keep up with his results and find out what 2018 will bring for him, like his Facebook fan page @GageWalkerRacing, follow him on Twitter @GageWalker7 or learn more about him at GageWalkerRacing.com.