Hot Wheels Junior Karting Challenge

Round 2 of the Hot Wheels INDYCAR Junior Grand Prix powered by K1 Speed rolls into Arlington, Texas, on Thursday with a tough act to follow.

At last month’s Indianapolis round, brothers qualified for the Hot Wheels Junior Grand Prix championship race at San Francisco’s K1 Speed facility on Sept. 13. The finals will be held in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma Raceway (Sept. 14-16).

There are three qualifying rounds for the event. The third is July 12 in Toronto. The top three finishers from each round earn trips to the finals, where they and their families will be invited to attend INDYCAR’s season finale, the Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The Texas round will be held at the K1 Speed facility at 1801 E. Lamar Blvd. in Arlington Check-in begins at 4:30 p.m. CT Thursday. INDYCAR drivers James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Robert Wickens are serving as mentors for the events. For more information, click here.

Hot Wheels Junior Karting ChallengeTeam Hinchcliffe was completed at the Indianapolis on May 24, with brothers Jacob and Joshua Bolen of Leland, Illinois, along with Elliott Cox of Indianapolis qualifying for the finals. Jacob Bolen, 11, was the round winner. Joshua Bolen is 8, Cox is 10.

Karters are introduced to the sport in various ways, but the story of the Bolens is most interesting.

“My parents own and operate a local tree service,” Jacob Bolen said. “My dad was contracted to remove some trees for a customer who owned a racing go-kart. Part of the payment for the tree service was the go-kart.

“I (had) never set foot in a racing go-kart. I mainly drove a four-wheeler or mini dirt bike around our property. My dad took me to the track not knowing anything about the setup of the kart nor the track. After a few practice sessions, my dad thought I had what it took to throw me in some of the last couple of races of the 2015 season.”

After that, Jacob’s three younger brothers caught the karting bug, too.

Team Newgarden will come from the Texas event. Team Wickens will carry the flag from Toronto. The INDYCAR drivers will help host the karters in California.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for these kids. I wish there had been something like this when I was young!” said Newgarden, INDYCAR’s reigning champion. “All of us have karting backgrounds, so I can’t wait to meet them and support them.”

The INDYCAR drivers also can relate to the Junior Grand Prix because most played with Hot Wheels growing up. Now in its 50th year, the Hot Wheels diecast car is the No. 1-selling toy in the world, with 16.5 Hot Wheels sold every second. The name came from the first response of Mattel co-founder Elliott Handler upon seeing the first design rolling along the floor. “Those are some hot wheels,” he said.

K1 Speed has more than 30 facilities across the United States.