Three-time Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals Champion Ben Cooper has been a busy guy since he started karting. Racing nearly year round since he started, he and his family from the UK have lived and breathed karting, especially since moving to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. While Ben’s competitive on track duties are no longer active, he still operates a race team, is building a junior karting program for new racers, manages a kart track and recently became a father for the first time, to what we all expect to be a future champion.
Recently we caught up with Cooper by email, as for the first time since 1998 he was not at a kart track throughout the winter season, including the Florida Winter Tour where he has had a big presence for the last half-decade.
We chatted about the Ben Cooper Junior Team, where he mentioned he actually had to turn down racers for the program because it had already tripled in numbers from the year prior, what races he expects to be at this year, as well as his favourite part of a new racing season.
Enjoy the entire CKN Chatter below.
First, how has the winter been for you? It’s the first time in many years that you and/or your team hasn’t competed in Florida. Did it bother you?
“It’s been a good winter for me to be honest. The fact that I haven’t been down south this winter has been great for me personally as I have been able to spend a lot of time with my new son Thomas. In terms of the racing, I actually think it has been a good break for me. Since 1998 I have been going to races all year round and this is the first big karting break I have ever had. It has given me personally and the team at ICAR a good chance to fully prepare for the upcoming season.”
We saw your post about the Ben Cooper Junior Team meetings. How is the team shaping up?
“It’s looking insane. We have 17 drivers signed up for this year, which is over double what we had started with last year. In fact, it has pretty much tripled in numbers. We have had to turn people away as we are just getting too close to the start of the season. We have six second-year drivers who all attended their first races last year with us, and they will all be attending the Coupe de Montreal races this year. The goal for all of the first year drivers is to attend the last race of the Coupe de Montreal at Mont Tremblant.”
And what is in store for the team this summer?
“Mainly staying in the Montreal region attending the Coupe de Montreal races with the team. We have the majority of our second year BCR Junior drivers attending the races as well as a bunch of DD2 drivers who started racing last year. We have really gone back to the basics with the team right now, concentrating on getting new people into karting and taking them to races.”
Can you reflect on the end of 2017? Where many of your Junior Team drivers got the chance to take part in a regional race at the Coupe de Montreal finale in Montreal.
“It was fun to see the progress of those kids all last year. They all pretty much started last year and we got them ready for their first race at Tremblant and it was just such a good event to finish the year off with them. At ICAR at the start of the year, we took their lap times from the first training day and some of them were doing 1 minute 20 something second laps. By the end of the year, they were all consistently under the minute mark. It will be good to work with them all again this year during our training days and the races.”
What part of a new season do you enjoy the most?
“I can’t wait to get on the track for the first time. Every year at Tremblant, the earliest we can, we get the rental karts out and test them all. Papa Ben has had them all apart during the winter, so we have to test them all at the start of the year to make sure that he has done everything back up tight. Quite often it is just Papa Ben and I at the track and it’s just a fun day before the summer madness starts.”
Finally, how many more days or weeks until karts will be on track at the Jim Russell Karting Academy in Mont-Tremblant?
“Well at Tremblant we are actually not allowed to get on track until after a certain date in April. So we are still a couple of weeks away from that date, which is a good thing right now as we had a 15cm snow storm yesterday. I have coaching booked for the 25th to the 27th, hopefully, we will be ready to go by them. However at ICAR, the track is clear, we just need to get the track clean. Our opening day at ICAR is the 14th where we are having an open door day, where we will have discounts on certain items such as Alpinestars.”
To learn more about the Ben Cooper Junior Team or to get in touch with Ben Cooper, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.