Despite the mobility limitations of Eli’s skeletal condition, quarter midget racing gives Eli the freedom and confidence to accomplish the unexpected.
A typical Saturday at the Music City Quarter Midget Association Race Track (MCQMRA), in Hermitage, Tennessee, involves a day full of racing. Families come together and bond over a sport that even the tiniest children at age 5 can take part in. On certain Saturdays throughout the year, aspiring racers can participate in an “Arrive and Drive” where they learn more about the sport of quarter midget racing and are given the opportunity to practice driving a quarter midget race car. Thomas Frohmiller took his son Eli to the track on an Arrive and Drive day to see what all the hype was about.
When Eli experienced the ins and outs of quarter midget racing, he was immediately hooked. Eli, a personable 6-year old boy who loves being outside, playing baseball and racing his Hot Wheels, was born with spina bifida, a congenital skeletal disorder that at times can affect his mobility. When Eli found out that he would be granted a wish, he knew he wanted a quarter midget race car. His parents, Thomas and Christine, supported his decision fully, but admitted that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
Eli spent time sketching out the details of how his quarter midget car would look. The race car would have the insignia of his favorite superhero, The Flash and his favorite number, 19; and it would be red and white. The engineers used his sketch to fulfill his vision. They customized the race car perfectly for Eli’s height and weight. The pedals even had a special accommodating plate constructed, so that Eli’s feet would not slide off.
In preparation for his wish day began with scattered showers, which resulted in a rain delay, but that was not going to dampen the excitement surrounding Eli’s Race Day.
Eli was surprised with a personalized jumpsuit that matched his car. He had several logo patches on his suit that represented his sponsors. Eli was grinning from ear to ear when he tried the suit on and it fit perfectly.
Eli played with his cousins and got time in the limelight as he posed in front of his car, while the track dried from the rain. He asked several times, “When am I going to get to race?” Eventually the clouds opened, the sun came out and the sky painted a beautiful sunset. It was finally time to race!
Alongside other local quarter midget racers, Eli suited up in anticipation of the starting pistol. They started their engines, “On your mark, get set, go!” exclaimed the emcee. They were off! Eli led the entire race. His dad constantly encouraged him and gave him guidance through their headsets. As Eli whipped around each lap, fans cheered him on with signs and shakers.
As the 20th lap approached, Eli knew he had to put the pedal to the metal, as he endured through the heat and exhaustion. He crossed the finish line. He had won! As his parents and friends helped him out of his car, his smile showed pure joy. Always a good sport, Eli congratulated his opponents with a high-five. He was given a checkered flag and waved it high with confidence.
After his victory, representatives from RPR Insurance, which sponsored the race, presented Eli with his trophy at the awards ceremony. Lori Jones from the MCQMRA congratulated Eli on his big win and welcomed him into the community of quarter midget racing. All in attendance reminisced on the special day as they enjoyed dinner from Martin’s Bar-B-Que around the track.
“The Music City Quarter Midget Racing Association and the Make-A-Wish family have embraced us through this whole process,” said his mother, Christine. “Racing puts Eli on a level playing field. It gives him the confidence boost he wants and deserves.”
Eli ended the night signing autographs and playing with his friends. Eli’s race car was tucked safely away in his new trailer that he would get to take home and use in future races. Eli’s Race Day was sponsored by RPR Insurance, a faithful supporter and partner of Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee.
Eli’s confidence was boosted on the evening of June 27th. He began a journey with a sport that will bring him courage, boldness and a sense of accomplishment as he succeeds in life.
A special thanks to Flash Racing Engine, Justin Posey Motorsports, Middle Tennessee Trailer, MPI Steering Wheels, NC Chassis Company, Radical Race Gear, and S&M Kart Supply for making Eli’s race car and jumpsuit.