Soboba karter races to continue his winning streak

Soboba’s Deeahmee Malone drives a Legend Car at the Adams Motorsports Park in Riverside. Robert A. Whitehead Photography

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special to the Valley News

Deeahmee Malone joined the sport of racing to carry on a family legacy. He is a third-generation racer, following in the tracks of his father and grandfather. Kart racing, or karting, is a road racing variant of motorsport with open-wheel, four-wheeled vehicles known as go-karts or shifter karts. They are usually raced on scaled-down circuits, although some professional kart races are also held on full-size motorsport circuits. Karting is commonly perceived as the steppingstone to the higher ranks of motorsports, with most Formula One champions having begun their careers in karting.

The 18-year-old Soboba Tribal member began racing karts about six years ago and has won two championships in the past season at the Northern Nevada Kart Club. He placed third in a national competition, racing in a KA Kart. He runs No. 12, a family number that his father and grandfather used when racing stock cars in Carson City, Nevada.

Although he lives in Reno, Malone keeps close ties with the Soboba community whenever he visits Troy Adams Motorsports in Riverside for coaching and practice runs. Adams, who has been coaching Malone for about a year, said he’s been blessed to have five of his clients in NASCAR.

Adams’ family opened Adams Kart Track, now known as Adams Motorsports Park, in 1960 and it was the first African American owned racing facility in California and one of the largest facilities of its kind in the western United States. After college, Troy Adams became a NASCAR driver and from 1995 to 2002, he was one of only a handful of African American drivers on the NASCAR circuit.

Adams said his experiences have allowed him to teach Malone how to navigate the sport. “With NASCAR, or racing in general, he’s going into a space where there’s not many of his ethnicity. There’s no Native Americans in NASCAR, if you look at it,” Adams said. “I support him in those efforts, and I think he thrives on trying to be better in that area and I like that about him.”

Adams acquired sole ownership of Adams Motorsports Park in 2006 and is best known for his driver development skills, teaching professional drivers from all over the world. He said his race team is very diverse and everybody is always welcome.

“The most important thing a racer has to have is passion, just like any other sport,” Adams said. “You have to have the will to push yourself beyond your limits because racing is a very uncomfortable sport at the speed that we go.”

He said the biggest thing he tells everyone is that you have to be comfortable in an uncomfortable environment and learn how to calm yourself down, sometimes putting your mind and body in another place. “Things that make us successful are usually the things we felt uncomfortable about doing in the beginning,” Adams said.

“There is no part of our sport, or any elite athlete’s environment, where they’re comfortable. They are always pushing to that extreme end and the only way they can do that is to learn how to be comfortable in that space,” Adams said.

His coaching is based on watching how the car performs but also, he can mentally coach drivers to go beyond themselves to get to the next level. “Some people say in racing it’s more about being a psychologist than a coach,” Adams said.

Offering something for all ages, Adams started a Kid Kart program about 15 years ago that allows those as young as five years old to be introduced to the sport. Yet, the oldest driver he has is 90+ years old. His expertise and passion have allowed Adams to develop many upcoming racers throughout the motorsports industry and he enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

Malone began training in a Legend Car with Adams in September, for the upcoming season. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hosting the U.S. Legend Cars International Road Course Series and he will be competing Jan. 7-8, 2023. Malone enjoys the strong support of his parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom have traveled to watch him race in Arizona, Oregon, Washington and many points in between.

Malone has participated in many competitions with different karts, from a 206 that can go up to 60 mph to a KA100 that can go 80 mph. He has a regimen he follows to prepare for races. “I start off by eating and then go work out for an hour,” he said. Both these things provide the energy and stamina he needs to stay focused throughout a race.

“It takes patience and quick reflexes to avoid wrecks on the track in order to win a race,” he said. “I like the speed of this sport and how it gives me such a thrill when I’m driving.”

Malone said the biggest challenge is the competition with other racers and staying focused. “It’s important to always stay consistent,” he said. “I’m planning on becoming a NASCAR driver and the Legends is a good way to climb up there.”