Nova Palermo holds up her trophy in victory lane at Millbridge Speedway after a recent win. Submitted photo

Jason Palermo wanted to make sure his 8-year-old daughter, Nova, interest in go-karts wasn’t just a passing fad. Turns out he was right, it wasn’t.

Palermo recently won the Cookout Kids Night presented by NASCAR driver Kyle Larson at Millbridge Speedway in Sailsbury, N.C. on Aug. 24 for her first major win in the cadet go-kart series.

Starting last year, the third grader at Pleasant Knoll Elementary School has won before, but not such a big race against with a big name attached to it.

The elder Palermo worked his way though the racing ranks up to racing dirt track late model cars in his 30s. The passion for driving was passed down to Nova.

“I like that you can be really competitive and the trophies will get bigger and bigger,” she said. “There was one out there taller than me.”

When Palermo moved into a new neighborhood, Nova saw some kids riding around the neighborhood and wanted a go-kart to do the same. Jason was keen on the idea at first, and told her about actual racing. He let her try it out some, but wasn’t ready to make a huge investment in it until he knew it was something she wanted for herself.

“I wasn’t going to buy a kart until she drove me crazy about it,” he said.

Sure enough, Nova did.

Once Nova got a kart of her own, her dad started working with her, until she developed a rhythm behind the wheel. Three races in to her new passion, Palermo found victory lane.

“Once she got that, I thought we might be on to something,” he said. “We saw by the second race she ever did; she had a rhythm.”

Palermo races in the cadet group of karts for beginners and will do so until she is around 9-years-old and then will move up to a beginner box stock kart with more horsepower. She currently runs about 10 horsepower and will move up to 16 horsepower when she goes to box stock.

Jason said Nova has gained confidence lap after lap, but its not something he is surprised about given his past as a racer.

“I am good at it and I hope to keep doing it,” Nova said.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep