What is it like to be the most active driver in the history Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals? Warman, Saskatchewan’s Scott Campbell is that guy, competing in two-thirds of the annual events in their 15-year history, competing in places such as the Canary Islands, Portugal, Egypt, Italy, USA among many others. Campbell has also been very successful over the years, claiming a World title in 2010 and standing on the podium twice more as a vice-champion. It’s been a wild ride for Campbell, and although he won’t be competing in 2014, for the first time since 2005, and he hopes that it doesn’t end here.
After speaking with Scott, who has now competed in karts for 25 years, leading up to this years event in Valencia, Spain, he prepared an excellent article for us at CKN, highlighting his experiences over the years; the highs, the lows and the interesting. He also included a nice selection of photos from over the years competing around the world that can be found below this article.
In 2002 it was the first year I raced this new class called Rotax. The Nationals were held in Calgary and because I lost a chain in the prefinal while in third spot, I had to start the final from 34th place. I drove my kart to sixth by the end of the race and missed out on my first trip to the Rotax Grand Finals which were held in South Africa. After that year I said that my goal was to qualify for Team Canada.
After saying that 12 years ago, I now have become the driver with the most appearances (10 times) at the Rotax Grand Finals in the whole world. It has been an amazing journey, learning so much about karting and meeting so many amazing people from around the world.
The first year that I earned a spot on Team Canada was in 2003, when I again had bad luck in the prefinal while leading at Nationals. I spun off the track and got hit by the second place driver and my race was finished. Now that meant that I had to start from 34th, but this time drove all the way to 2nd place. That year the Grand Finals were held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Other than racing in the USA, this was my first international competition. 2003 was also the last year that Rotax shipped your own personal kart to the Grand Finals. That year I was racing my Paul Tracy Kart made by CRG. I very quickly found out that I did not know how to set my kart up to be fast against the best in the world. I struggled in practice and qualified 41st.
The next morning before warm up I was talking to the Australians who were pitted next to us. They gave me some pointers on set up, then when I went out for warm up I was fifth fastest overall. Now knowing that I had the speed I knew I could compete with the best in the World. That year was the only year I never made it to Finals, when I ended up 51st overall after getting crashed out of the last chance race while setting the fastest lap.
Over all of the years, I have learned that you might not know everything and if you can ask someone for help or more importantly work with your teammates on Team Canada then you will do much better.
Each year I have grown to understand what it takes to be a front runner at the Rotax Grand Finals. It is all about math. If you understand that each position on the track is one point, sometimes it is not worth trying to make a pass in the heat races when you could crash and lose so much more. You need to be consistently fast but not necessarily the fastest until the final. Build up the speed over the week and by the end you will be near the front. The one thing people forget is that they think they are the fastest driver in the world but the reality is that every driver at the Grand Finals was the fastest in their own country.
In the 10 years that I have raced at the Grand Finals there have been a lot of the same faces near the front of the grid but each year there is lots of new faces that are just as fast. As much as a driver thinks that racing at the Grand Finals is physical and driving the kart as fast as possible, they forget that you must be mentally ready for what they are about to do. If they are not, even if they drive as fast as they can they will never be to their full potential.
The Rotax Max Grand Finals is always an amazing event to attend as a driver or spectator. This race is like no other race in the world. It is the true karting Olympics. With the first Grand Finals in Puerto Rico having 66 drivers from 19 countries and now growing to 360 drivers from over 50 countries last year in the United States it is a must to put on the bucket list. There have been many highs, from winning the World Championship in 2010 and second place the last two years, but with those highs there are many lows after being crashed out of races and not making Finals day in 2003.
The one thing I have learned is that everyone needs to be brought down to a very low to understand the true meaning of success. I have come across many drivers that don’t understand what it truly means to represent your country and yourself at any race, little alone the Grand Finals. It has been an amazing ten trips to the Rotax Grand Finals and every time I feel great honour in representing Canada on the world stage.
This past year has been tough for me to race but I would really like to get back to the Grand Finals for the 11th time representing Team Canada in the coming years. I have been on the other side of the kart this year being the Race Director at the club and Western Canadian Championships and also being a mechanic and driver coach.
I would like to thank everyone that has supported me over all of the years of my karting with most recently being Karting Canada, PSL Karting, PSL West and K1 Racegear. Without all of these people my record of 10 appearances at the Grand Finals would have never become a reality.
I wish the best of luck to all Team Canada drivers and all of my friends that I have met over 10 years at the Grand Finals. I will be watching online and will be cheering everyone on!!!
Scott Campbell Rotax Grand Finals History:
2000 – Puerto Rico (Did not compete)
2001 – Malaysia (Did not compete)
2002 – South Africa (Did not compete)
2003 – Egypt (51st Senor Max)
2004 – Canary Islands (16th RM1 and qualified 3rd)
2005 – Malaysia (Did not compete)
2006 – Portugal (7th RM1 after getting crashed on first lap of final and falling to 34th)
2007 – UAE (10th DD2)
2008 – Italy (23rd DD2)
2009 – Egypt (28th DD2)
2010 – Italy (Inaugural World Champion DD2 Masters)
2011 – UAE (30th DD2 Masters after getting crashed out on the start while in 3rd)
2012 – Portugal (2nd DD2 Masters and fast lap in final)
2013 – USA (2nd DD2 Masters and fast lap in final)
2014 – Spain (Did not compete)