ENGLEWOOD — Cody Krohn, 9, is working to carry on the legacy of drag racing started by his dad, Rich Krohn, who retired from drag racing 11 years ago to start a family.
The whole Krohn family acts as Cody’s pit crew to help make his dream come true.
Originally from Chicago, the family moved to Englewood where Rich now owns a landscaping company, Island Landscape & Design.
“A year and a half ago, my son decided to take up racing when we built a car for him,” Rich said. “We built many of the components for the car in my business, Precision Racecraft and Coating Specialties in Chicago. It took about 300 man hours.”
Rich operates as crew chief. His wife, Luci, provides data acquisition and their 11-year old daughter, Katie, analyzes the weather.
“I was nervous the first time he went down the track,” Luci said. “Since then I had no problem. In fact, I find motorsports to be a lot safer than some contact sports like football where you’re more likely to be injured.”
The Vineland Elementary School third-grader races with the International and National Hot Rod associations.
He raced in the Pro Am series in about 20 races his first year.
“It’s a cool way to keep the family together,” Luci said. “My husband was the inspiration behind our son’s start.”
Cody amassed 17 trophies his first year racing, including a regional IHRA Pro-Am championship. He has raced in Georgia, North and South Carolina. His home track is the Bradenton Motor Sports Park and he frequents tracks in Immokalee and Gainesville.
It wasn’t easy for Cody to pick up racing at first.
“I was a little wobbly because you have to drive it straight,” Cody said. “So sometimes I would go kind of slow. As I did it more and more, I kind of learned how to turn it to go straight.”
Cody races in the 8-9-year-old bracket in the junior drag race beginner category. It helps to have a father who finished consistently in the top five for 15 years. Cody’s junior dragster is half the size of the dragsters Rich drove. It’s a precision instrument designed to run within 12.9 seconds per eighth of a mile, Rich said.
“If they go faster than that, they’re disqualified. This is very delicate as far as managing what you’re doing. The purpose here for these kids is to build accuracy in their life. Everything has to be perfect.
“This car here,” Rich said, pointing to the one he made for his son, “is constructed out of the same materials (mine were): chrome alloy tubing, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber. Everything is very state-of-the-art.”
Upkeep of the vehicle runs in the thousands and Cody could possibly use his dragster until he is 16.
Upkeep for an engine in Cody’s class runs about $2,500 a year. An engine for the 10-11-year-old bracket runs about $5,000 and the 13-17-year-old bracket run $7,000.
After 40 years of racing experience, Rich said it’s easier being a crew chief than a racer.
“I was my own crew chief when I was racing because I owned it. I’m passing on to my son that I had to learn on my own the work ethic, the commitment it takes. This isn’t something that goes away when the season’s over with. This is all on you.”
When not racing, Cody likes to go snook fishing and he’s starting to take up hunting.
Cody may not make a living driving a race car, Rich said, “but what he’ll learn is the respect for doing something and doing it well. He knows the difference and that’s priceless to me.”