Karting kid: Carmel first-grader off to fast start in racing career

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Former IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher has watched 7-year-old Reagan Hodges compete in karting and is impressed with her skill.

“Potential is hard to see at that (age). What you do see or don’t see is whether they enjoy themselves or not,” said Fisher, who co-owns the Whiteland Raceway Park with her husband, Andy O’Gara. “That’s the one thing you see about Reagan is (that she) truly has fun with it. You can tell she loves to be there at the track and loves being in the kart. That’s the basis for starting a success story. She is on the right track because if you don’t enjoy what you do, you’re not going to be successful at it.”

Reagan, who is a first-grader at Towne Meadow Elementary School in Carmel, has certainly been a success in her first few years of racing.

“I love racing because you get to compete. Sometimes you can lose, sometimes you can win,” Reagan said. “You can compete and get medals.”

Her mother, Trish Hodges, comes from a racing family where her father, brother and aunt all raced karts.

Reagan had locked in the KRA Championship at New Castle Motorsports Park with four races to go. She  won nine of 10 races and has one second-place finish, all in the Kid Kart division.

“So we moved her up a class because she secured the championship in Kid Kart,” said her mother, Trish Hodges.

She placed fourth in her first Cadet Swift race.

Reagan is in first place at Whiteland Raceway Park. Entering the final race Sept. 24, she had three victories and five top-three finishes.

“As she gets older, it will get more challenging and challenging, just like anything else,” Fisher said. “I think the basis of having a passion for it and enjoying it, that is going to help see her through those challenges. As long as she keeps that, I think we’ll see some good things out of her.”

Reagan has competed in the Southern Indiana Racing Association Series, where she won a Kid Kart race. She placed third in her first cadet race after moving up a class in midseason. She will compete in her last race with that series Oct. 15 in Yorktown.

SIRA runs its series races in the streets and parks of certain cities.

In December 2021 at the beginning of the season, Reagan competed in the World Karting Association Manufacturers Cup on a karting course inside Daytona International Speedway in two kid kart classes, both top 10 finishes.

In March, she competed in the WKA Manufacturers Cup at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in two kid kart classes, finishing in the top five.

Reagan got her first kart when she was 3 years old, and she was able to start racing at Whiteland Raceway Park at age 4.

“Once we started, my dad (Tony Codalata) came out to the track,” Trish said. “Then he bought a kart for my little (half-sister), who is the same age group, and then he bought a kart for my two step-brothers.”

Another sister bought a go kart for her son, who is three months younger than Reagan, and moved from Florida back to the Indianapolis area.

“Now, we all go to the track together,” Trish said.

Reagan, who enjoys racing other family members, has gone as fast as 56 mph.

Reagan plans to take karate lessons this fall.

“If she’s not going to be in the kart, I want her to take other things to help her endurance,” Trish said. “She has a lot of energy. She doesn’t sit still, that’s why racing is good for her.”

They also plan for Reagan to race in places where it’s warmer in November, such as Charlotte and Atlanta.

Encouraging more racers

Trish and Dale Hodges’ daughter, Reagan, is the face of a nonprofit, Youth Karting Foundation, the couple founded.

“We started it to help kids interested in the sport get involved,” Trish said. “It’s mainly to help kids, because it is an expensive sport. We want to teach kids her age the craft. With Reagan being a female in what is a male-dominated sport, we try and teach inclusion and diversity in the sport.”

Reagan’s Facebook page is under Reagan Stella-Ray Racing. Her website is goreagango.com.

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