Kart champion uses his sport to teach engineering concepts

Skylar Robinson doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, but he’s already a champion racer.

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Chip Robinson, a retired race car driver, and his son Skylar, who is a national champion kart driver, have developed an educational program called 6 Simple Machines. They teach pupils about the engineering side of racing.   CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
Chip Robinson, a retired race car driver, and his son Skylar, who is a national champion kart driver, have developed an educational program called 6 Simple Machines. They teach pupils about the engineering side of racing.

The 15 year-old Aquinas High School sophomore races karts. He won the 2011 Florida Karting Champ­ionship Series and has several other titles in the karting world, which uses a points system similar to NASCAR to determine its champions.

“This is the foundation of motorsports,” said Skylar, who has been racing karts for about four years and is in his last season in the junior ranks.

Skylar’s ultimate goal is to become a race car driver. Skylar said there are professional drivers today who got their start in karts, and he also has a personal role model he wants to follow.

“I got involved because my dad was a professional racecar driver. I saw old videos, and I thought I wanted to do it,” he said.

His father, Chip Robinson, was a championship driver in the IMSA Camel GT series in the 1980s.

He drove for Porsche, Jaguar and Nissan. He won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1987 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1989. He raced for about 15 years, retiring in 1993.

Skylar’s racing dreams took some effort on his part. It wasn’t as simple as telling his dad he wanted to race.

“I wanted it to be his decision, not mine. He had to be on the A/B honor roll at school, and he has to maintain that,” his dad said.

The father-son team travels a lot to compete.

In addition to racing, Skylar and his dad have developed an educational program associated with the sport.

Called 6 Simple Machines, the program teaches the physics and engineering involved with the sport – and the machine itself – in hopes of developing an interest in engineering in the next generation.

“We don’t have enough engineers. We thought about going around to show kids it’s really cool. A lot of people don’t understand racing. We wanted to get them interested and give them a better understanding,” Skylar said.

So far, they have presented 6 Simple Machines at a handful of area schools, including Lake Forest Hills Elementary and St. Mary on the Hill School.

They would like to go to more schools. Interested teachers should contact Chip Robinson at crobinson 47@comcast.net.

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