BOISE, Idaho — Gregarious as always, Drew Van Maanen was a man on a mission Tuesday afternoon at Fast Lane Indoor Kart Racing.
“Van Maanens, we have an itch to win,” the senior fullback and long snapper said. “We don’t lose at anything we do. It’s something I was brought up doing and it’s something I’m going to continue to do. No, I fear nobody out there.”
Boise might not offer the sunny weather or killer whale accessibility of San Diego, but the Potato Bowl has provided the Wyoming football team something the now-defunct Poinsettia Bowl did not: off-the-field competition.
While the week’s ultimate competition will come at 2 p.m. Friday between Wyoming and Central Michigan at Albertsons Stadium, enthusiasm was in no short supply for the go-kart races. The Chippewas’ Tuesday event was snow tubing, but apparently the bulk of a Mid-American Conference team was too much and the lift broke down before Wyoming’s appointment. The Pokes headed to the track instead.
Van Maanen took first place in the first of nearly 20 heats. Immediately afterward, he took to seeing if anyone else could compete with his 22-second lap. The winners were determined by fastest lap and the fastest 10 riders went on to compete in the finals.
After some scouting, Van Maanen determined that he had seen enough. No one could match his technique.
“First off, you’ve got to go all gas, no brakes,” Van Maanen said, making sure no teammates in the room could overhear. “The whole time. You never let go. Around the corners, you’ve got to let the drift do the braking. If you hit your brake, you stop early and you’re still going to drift because you’re going fast. So that’s going to be like a double brake. So you’ve just got to have no fear out there.”
Tuesday wasn’t the only day of off-field competition. Monday night, the Cowboys and Chippewas competed in a bowling competition for charity. The Pokes came out on top.
“Each starter got a frame and then the 12th frame, one of your coaches had to go,” said linebacker Logan Wilson, who said his go-kart stalled too much for him to be competitive Tuesday. “And so our offense got a lead of like 60. Our defense tied with their offense, but then we won overall, because our offense outscored them.”
At the track, safety Riley Sessions, Van Maanen, cornerback Braden Smith, quarterback Josh Allen, safety Andrew Wingard, offensive lineman Rudy Stofer, linebacker Adam Pilapil, tight end Tyree Mayfield, running back Milo Hall and linebacker Ben Wisdorf, in descending order, qualified for the finals.
Van Maanen was confident going into the 10-minute ride.
“That’s the difference between me and a lot of people around me,” he said. “Especially, when I say a lot of people, I’m talking about Tyree Mayfield. If you’ve noticed, he’s still scouting. He’s been scouting since he got off the track and he’s nervous. He’s scared. He fears other people.”
The speedy Smith took the crown with a 22.468-second run on his ninth lap. Sessions was not far behind at 22.576.
Outwardly devastated, Van Maanen finished third. He was 126 thousands of a second off the winning time.