What does a 12-year-old require to pilot a dragster down a one-eighth mile paved strip faster than his competitors?
"Reflexes, I guess," he said. "You have to know your car, and it's real important to be quick on the starting sequence. You've got to feel your car, and know what it's telling you to do."
Ted Gipson competed in the Top Fuel class for 12-17-year-olds this year, while his sister is in the beginner class, driving Ted's former car.
"I picked out the colors for my car," said Katlyn Gipson. "I really, really like doing it. It's fun to go fast."
Ted Gipson Jr., said his father ran a service station in Danville for 30 years, giving him his love of automobiles.
"I was brought up around them," he said. "We saw one of these junior cars one time that was sponsored by D.A.R.E. in Nashville, and Ted (his son) got really interested. That's how we got into it."
Mom, dad and sponsor James Blake are the pit crew
The racing is truly a family affair, with father and mom serving as pit crew, along with sponsor James Blake.
"The kids take a few weekends off, but most weekends we're in a motel somewhere getting ready to race," said Ted Gipson Jr.
Ted Gipson reaches speeds of approximately 90 miles per hour in his 7.90-second trip down the track, while Katlyn makes the same race in 12.90 seconds.
"They're set up by rules to only reach a certain time," said Ted Gipson Jr. "If they run too fast for their class, you have to add weight to the car to slow it down."
Both Gipson drivers had to pass an inspection and test to enter the world of sanctioned drag racing and were issued racing licenses at a time when most youngsters are only dreaming about driving a passenger car.
"It's a pretty demanding test," said Ted Gipson Jr. "The inspectors are very strict about the racers knowing what they're doing before they're allowed on the track."
But the son said it's not that big a deal.
"You just have to keep the wheels straight when you race," shrugged Ted Gipson. "And go fast."
Katlyn Gibson, however, has another concern right now when she races.
"I have to sit on a pillow to see," she said. "It makes the seat feel better, too."