QMRacingInfo.com was started in 2018 as a personal project of Bill Messmer intended to be a one stop shop for finding out information about quarter midget racing and preserving some continuity among quarter midget clubs. It started with the intent of making it easier to find quarter midget clubs and their racing schedules.
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Hello! My name is Bill Messmer. I'm a software engineer who has worked in the industry for the last 20+ years on low level software. Throughout my career, I've worked on device drivers, operating systems, runtimes, API libraries, compilers, and debuggers.
In the Spring of 2010, my wife saw an e-mail from someone where we both worked regarding a community event for kids 5-16: a quarter midget ride day at the WQMA club in Monroe, WA. Neither my wife nor I had ever heard of quarter midget racing. But every time we had gone to an amusement park, my son -- who was 5 years old at the time -- wanted to do rides involving cars. We thought that taking him to ride day and letting him try out a quarter midget would simply be a fun afternoon activity. So, on May 8th, 2010, we drove out to the WQMA club in Monroe, WA. In those days, the WQMA club did only one ride day per year. It was an enormous event where hundreds of kids would show up and there were tons of other activities while the kids waited for their turn to go out on the track. So, we signed the waivers, got our number -- 139 if I remember correctly --, and waited. It was a few hours of doing other activities -- looking at other race cars, playing in the bouncy house, hanging out on the club playground, etc... -- before he got his turn. He got his 10 laps and came off the track. The first thing he said (super excited, I might add) was, "Can I go again!?"
Since it was a several hour wait, we told him that, unfortunately, he would not be able to drive again that day; so we went home. After that day, it was non-stop talking about quarter midgets! "Can we race quarter midgets!?" "Can you buy me a quarter midget!?" I wasn't a mechanically inclined person and I knew zero about race cars. My gut reaction was that putting five year old kids in gasoline powered race cars was insane. But my son kept asking... So we decided to go out to the club again on a regular race day and just talk to some folks. I spoke with the club's VP and he introduced me to another club member who had some time to answer my questions. Being that I wasn't "into cars" and I didn't know how long my son's interest in this would last, I was seriously concerned about the cost of getting involved in the sport and buying a car. I talked to that club member... He answered a lot of questions for me... and he said that he knew some people selling used gear and someone who might be willing to let me use a car for a while to try it out. He walked me over to a family who was selling a 74" original GT American made in 2000. After listening to my story and concerns, that family told me that for $250, they'd let me use their car throughout WQMA's novice training and practice. If I decided to buy it afterwards, the $250 would simply go towards their asking price; otherwise, I was only out $250. I agreed and after settling details about the car (which the seller offered to set up for Junior Novice), we went around to several other families and bought used racing gear: a used race suit, gloves, etc... The only thing I bought new was a helmet.
At the time, we didn't have a truck... or a trailer... so we ended up picking up the quarter midget in our minivan. Yes, minivans can be amazing vehicles. We folded the second and third row seats into the floor and moved the driver and passenger seats as far forward as was practical. The 74" GT quarter midget just barely fit into the minivan with my wife driving and I took the kids in our sedan. Once the car was in, we put a blanket atop it and balanced the pit cart (minus the removed handle) on top of the car. Thus began our entry into the world of quarter midgets.
We started summer novice training in June 2010. After the first few novice training sessions, we went to the track to practice. Every time I moved the throttle stop to give my son more throttle control, the car coughed, choked, sputtered, and died. Knowing nothing about cars or small engines at the time (carbeur...? what...?), I had no idea what was wrong. It was just incredibly frustrating. I called a friend who tinkered on his own car and asked him to come take a look. My friend came and futzed with the Honda 120 in the quarter midget and couldn't figure out why it kept constantly stalling when given any throttle. I was pretty close to just giving up and saying "this wasn't for me." I looked up the contact information for the club's tech director at the time and gave him a call. The tech director told me to bring the car out to that Sunday's club race and find him. So we did. We drove our minivan out to the WQMA facility during a race Sunday and unloaded the pit cart and quarter midget. At the time, the tech director was busy with something, so we ended up just hanging around and waiting. While we were waiting, a number of other families came over and started asking us what the problem was. We explained to a few of them what was going on and they started looking at the 120 engine and playing with it. A few more families came over trying to help. None of them immediately spotted the problem. Maybe five or ten minutes later, the WQMA tech director came over and asked what was going on. He took one look at the 120 that was in the car and immediately spotted the problem. It turns out that the seller had recently gotten his engine back from his motor builder and had left a 160 carb on the engine. When he set the car up for Junior Novice, he popped a red restrictor plate and second gasket in. While a 160 carb works fine on a 120 for Heavy Honda, it does not work so well with a Junior Novice restrictor plate. The tech director told me that I had the wrong carb and would need to get a 120 carb.
As we were supposed to be at novice training (with the car working) some two days later, I asked exactly where I could get a 120 carb between that Sunday afternoon and the novice training class on Tuesday. One of the families who had come over and tried to help told us to hang on. He walked to his trailer, came back, handed me a spare 120 carb and some other parts, and told me to get it back to him when I had a chance to get parts of my own. In addition, he helped me install everything. I was pretty surprised. This wasn't someone I knew at all. I had just met him... and yet he was here loaning me non-trivial parts and helping me put things together. THAT EXPERIENCE is what struck me as special about quarter midgets. In the many years we participated in quarter midgets, neither of my kids were super-competitive. We didn't stay for the racing. We stayed for the community.
My son raced for 9 seasons -- from the 2010 season through the 2018 season. My daughter also started when she was five and raced for 8 season -- from the 2012 season through the 2019 season.
Quarter midgets ended up meaning a great deal to me and my family over the years that we participated. My wife joined the WQMA Board of Directors for the 2014 season and served as the Club Treasurer for four years (through the end of 2017). In addition, she took on the role of WQMA Tower Head for the 2015 season and served in that capacity for five years (through the end of 2019). As well, she has, at various times, served as the Regional Tower Head for Region 9 of QMA and the National Head Scorekeeper for QMA Grands events. I joined the WQMA Board of Directors for the 2016 season and served on the board for four years (through the end of 2019). I was the Club President for 2016 and 2017, the Past President for 2018, the Club Secretary for 2019, the Club Webmaster for 2018 and 2019, and the Club Head Pointskeeper for 2018 and 2019. I also served on the Regional Board of Directors for Region 9 for 2018 and 2019 -- the Assistant Regional Director in 2018, and the Regional Director in 2019.
While 2019 was our last season racing in quarter midgets, I still care a great deal about the sport and continue to run QMRacingInfo.com and enhance it as time permits.
What Does QMRacingInfo.com Run On?
QMRacingInfo.com is hosted as a series of web sites and services mostly within Microsoft Azure. Most of the site is built on Node.JS and Azure SQL services.
- An Azure S1 App Service running most of the web sites
- A Node.JS app service running the main QMRacingInfo.com web site
- A Node.JS app service running a read-only public (no auth required) REST style API for querying public QMRacingInfo data
- A static web site serving up the map, logos, and other static content
- An Azure Basic SQL server hosting the database
- An Azure F1S Virtual Machine running a Bitnami MediaWiki image (hosting this wiki)
- An Azure Function App which auto-rasterizes PDFs into one picture per page (for allowing MMS sends of PDFs)
- Several Azure Storage Accounts for storing web site data
In addition to the Azure hosted components of QMRacingInfo.com, there is also:
- A Microsoft-365 account for mail associated with QMRacingInfo.com
- A Google Cloud account for serving up various aspects of Google Maps within QMRacingInfo.com
- A Twilio account acting as the provider for all SMS/MMS capabilities of QMRacingInfo.com