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July 23, 2008 > Fremont Scout builds soft wall for racing track

Fremont Scout builds soft wall for racing track

Submitted By Lila Bringhurst
Photos By Anh Thompson

Cody Thompson, a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School, recently built a soft wall for the Baylands Quarter Midget Track where he raced for five years. Soft walls, built of crushable materials that absorb the impact of a car at high speeds, can help prevent injuries. Thompson knew that most Quarter Midget tracks already have them so he decided to build one for Baylands as his Eagle Scout project.

Volunteers have been working on weekends to build 60 panels composed of used racing slick tires sandwiched between two pieces of 2x8 plywood and bolted in place with carriage bolts. During the next two weeks the Baylands track will be cleared and the new soft wall installed.

Cody belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Boy Scout Pack 106, of Troop 105 in the Mission Peak District and to the Baylands Quarter Midget Track Association. Volunteers from both groups have been involved in building the soft wall, which will be in place for the August 9 race at the Baylands Quarter Midget Track and its racers whose ages range from four-and-a-half to fifteen years old.

Cody Thompson found his passion when he was ten years old. While most boys his age were learning racing skills on their Nintendos, Cody spent hours racing small cars at the Baylands Quarter Midget Track in San Jose. With the support of his family, friends and sponsors, Cody won three championships in one year, held five track records at the same time in five different classes and was twice voted by his peers as the Sportsman of the Year. Now fifteen years old, the Mission San Jose High School sophomore races Micro Sprint cars at the Delta Speedway in Stockton, where he is the points leader.

Cody, active in Scouting, drew on his racing experience for his Eagle Scout project. Unlike most other Quarter Midgets Tracks where he races, Baylands did not have a soft wall. With the encouragement of Terry McCarthy, president of the Baylands Quarter Midget Racing Association, Cody and his dad, Mike Thompson, began their search for the best design and materials for a soft wall that could be built by volunteers.

Over the last several months, juggled in between a hectic racing schedule, Cody organized several daylong work projects. Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Baylands Quarter Midget Racing Association, and Boy Scout Troop 106, have pitched in to build the 55 panels for the wall and five more for reserve. Craig Conwright, Safety Coordinator for the City of Fremont, helped to make sure the panels were constructed properly and Sheriff Todd Flavetta of the City of Santa Clara is helping to make sure the panels are properly installed.

"This was a huge undertaking," commented Cody's mom, Anh Thompson, "but Cody has seen lots of injuries and he knew soft walls helped at other tracks. We are so appreciative of the people who volunteered to help and the companies who donated materials or gave us a discount."

Some of NASCAR's big names, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, J. J. Yeley and Jason Leffler, started out racing Quarter Midgets. It is a demanding, expensive sport, but hopefully Cody Thompson, with his skills and passion, will someday join that elite group. Meanwhile, he and others are working hard to make sure the Baylands Quarter Midget Track is ready for the August 9 club race that will inaugurate the new soft wall.

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