When fun and academics coincide
Posted on 02/20/2019
Jacky the racing kart driver with father

Teachers get excited when they hear students use words like apex, coefficient, calibrate, velocity or caster angle correctly, but even more so when they are used in everyday conversations.

Alex Jacky, a sixth-grade professional racing kart driver, and his father co-taught a math class at Bridgewater Middle School to show students real-world applications of mathematics to motor sports.

“Alex is a great student and I love opportunities to give my students real world application and experiences,” Emily McCarthy, math teacher, said.

Through this sport A. Jacky has improved his science, technology, engineering and math skills. He must be able to calculate his tire pressures to account for air pressure changes due to heat; he must also be able to determine gear ratios for specific track layouts to optimize performance; and he must understand the physics of changes made to the kart due to track conditions. Using a computer onboard the kart, Alex and his father graph his races to learn where he needs to improve his driving.

“This sport has helped my son grow as a student and a person. He has learned invaluable life lessons that will serve him in everyday life, not only from the math and technology side, but also working in a team, winning and losing with grace, and business development – for example, we just picked up a major international brand partner,” Eric Jacky, father, said.

Pointing to areas in the kart, Alex explained to his classmates how taking the curve is best when he drives the apex, or takes the curve as straight as possible, because it’s less wear on his tires and helps maintain equal tire pressure. If the tires get out of balance the kart can wobble, which makes it difficult to drive. He also talked about steering geometry and how the slightest error can affect his race – noting that he once lost a race by seven one-thousandths of a second.

With his success in the Ocala Gran Prix Racing program, Alex Jacky has earned a full scholarship to any Florida college or university. Driving purpose-built, open-wheel racing machines at speeds up to 70 mph, this young driver is on a path to a career in professional motor racing.

“My favorite race would have to be my first win, last year in Ocala. I was racing against the top kids in the nation,” A. Jacky said. “I spent four years chasing that goal, so it felt good. The sport is really fun.”