In his first full season of racing, the Talladega native has won numerous races in the Rookie Purple Plate Division of kart racing. Before this season he had only competed in a few exhibition races.
Now racing at speeds over 50 miles per hour, Emory just might be racing on Sundays at the big tracks some day.
“He’s loved racing since he was 3 years old,” said Emory’s mother Kelli Hagan. “He has a natural ability. As a mother I was scared to death watching, but after a few races I couldn’t help but support it. He’s hooked on it and never wants to stop. Maybe he’ll go all the way to NASCAR.”
Emory, a big Danica Patrick fan, even has his own website for photos, stats and schedules.
“The website is for sponsors and people to look at, and it puts him one notch ahead of being serious about racing,” said Emory’s father, David Hagan. “It’s also a great way for people to keep up with him.”
David Hagan is an ex-racer and his wife said Emory has followed in his dad’s footsteps.
“Emory wanted to race dirt bikes, but go-karts are safer,” David Hagan said. “He finished third when he was 5 years old the first night he ever raced. After that first night he was hooked.”
The proud father said Emory has thankfully avoided crashing this year.
“(Emory’s) had a couple spins, but no collisions as of yet, so we’ve been blessed there,” he said. “It’s not as scary as it seems when you watch him. He’s very smooth and has a lot of talent.”
The final race of the season was held Thursday in front of a big crowd on Triple Crown Weekend, where Emory finished second behind McKenna Nelms of Newnan, Ga.
Emory was dominating the short track before he found friendly competition with 8-year-old McKenna.
“McKenna is a lot faster and has more experience, so Emory had to step up his game a little bit,” David Hagan said.
At a recent race McKenna defeated Emory by a close margin, but awarded her trophy to Emory.
“She walked up to Emory and gave it to him without talking to her parents,” Kelli Hagan said. “She’s like a little adult. They have such a good camaraderie and they get more people watching because they’re so young and talented.”
Both Emory and McKenna are expected be in attendance of next month’s Hall of Fame induction banquet, where McKenna will receive a first-place cash prize and coveted jacket.
The Hagans said McKenna’s parents have helped out with Emory’s car more than anyone else.
“It’s a very family oriented-sport,” David Hagan said. “They’ll probably be friends for the rest of their lives.”
For more information on Emory, visit emoryhagan.com. McKenna’s website is located at mckennanelms.com.
Contact Wesley Sinor at email@example.com.