---- — By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- When she was just seven years old, Laura Long, of Selisngrove, wanted to race a go-kart.
Her father, Jeremy Long, made her wait and ask for two more years before she finally got here wish.
Long, 17, a senior at Selinsgrove High School, is the granddaughter of the 1992 Selinsgrove Speedway 410 sprint car Rookie of the Year, Chris Long, and her uncle is three-time 358 sprint car track champion, Blane Heimbach.
Long, who races in the Lite division for go-karts at the Selinsgrove Raceway Park, was recently named one of the captains for the Seals girls basketball team. She also competes in track and field in the triple jump, high jump and she just started working with the javelin.
"I really wanted to make sure that she was ready to race, that is why I let her wait to ask for two years," Jeremy Long said. Laura Long has been racing since 2005 and has moved up from the rookie cage division to the Lites this year. She is third in the current point standings and has a chance to finish runner-up if all goes well in the remaining races.
"We would go and watch my uncle Blane race and my dad and pap took me to see some friends race go-karts and I got interested just from watching them race," she said.
She noted the her uncle gets to watch her race every now and then and his advice to her is to keep the pedal to the metal.
"The season has been going pretty good so far," she said. "We are close to getting that first win."
Long has not won a go-kart title but has had a top-five finish in points in the Flat 350 class, which is her best points finish to date.
This is her rookie season in the Lite class, which is an adult class at the track.
Her grandfather offers advice to her and he can see the differnce in her driving skills over the years.
"She has a desire to win," Chris Long said. "I think she has the talent and I knew a few things that work and I've seen an improvement in her and she can follow what I am explaining to her. There's a little bit of lingo (racing vocabulary) difference right now. I know what she is explaining (and) what she tells and I can sse that she has the ability to search around and find the faster spot on the track."
Her father is the crew chief as he has wrench on engines, including his dad's sprint car engine, for most of his life.
"I feel very lucky to have my dad and pap helping me out with the go-kart," she said. "It was kind of hard at first, but it didn't take me too long to adapt."
She said that when she first started racing the go-kart, she would play with her friends while her dad was cleaning the kart and working on it.
"I am more dependent now on getting the kart ready to race," she said of the change that has taken place since 2005. "I've learned how the engine works, the basic set-ups and I am a lot more aggressive driver."
She also gets help with her go-kart from her two best friends, Miranda Kantz and Marinna Carroll. Kantz is on the basketball team with her while Carroll is on the track and field team with her.
"The girls love helping me at the races and not too many people can say they have a girlfriends that races go-karts," she said.
Even though racing takes up her time, she is focused on the upcoming basketball season and going to college where she wants to be a nurse.
"I think we could have gone further last year," she said. "We lost to Shikellamy in the first round of districts as they just wanted it more than we did. I am really excited about this year and we want to win districts."
Long has been playing basketball since the seventh grade.
She is an avid hunter and when she can come back from college next season, she will race the go-kart when she can.
"I always want to win," she said.
That's the type of answer you'd expect from a family whose passion is racing at Selinsgrove.