Darren White has been building up his Energy Corse North America brand four years now but no doubt 2017 was his most successful.
His expansion into the USA really took off with victories at the Florida Winter Tour and SKUSA Pro Tour to start the year and as the summer progressed, more and more wins could be found, including a Canadian National crown and the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship title. But that was just the beginning as he capped off the year with victories at two of the biggest races of the year for the Mini category, first in Italy at the Rok Cup International Final and then in Las Vegas at the SKUSA SuperNationals.
On top of the victories, he also supported the Energy Corse team and his drivers at the 24 Hours of Karting race in France as well as the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal.
He is now working with a number of high profile race teams in the USA, great support in Canada, and a perfect partnership with the Energy Corse factory in Italy.
Taking a brief breath during the month of December, while still preparing for the upcoming winter season, we caught up with Darren for a quick interview, where he was still grinning from ear to ear, blown away by all of the success he endured in 2017.
CKN: First off, what a way to end 2017! Rok Cup International Finals Champion. IAME International Final Champion and SKUSA SuperNationals Champion for Energy Karts. How the heck does that feel?
Darren White (DW): I am Obviously ecstatic! To be honest, I can’t even describe all the feelings I had when we won the ROK Cup International Final in the Mini Rok Category. Excitement, happiness, gratitude was a few of the feelings at the time. To see how happy Connor Zilisch and his parents Janice and Jim were just bought a lot of emotion forward for everyone involved under the factory tent that weekend. Then to add to an already amazing weekend, we were able to get Energy kart another world championship in France the very next day, at the IAME International Final. After that, I think the momentum just carried us into Las Vegas for the SKUSA SuperNationals and helped us win that race. I could not have imagined we would win all three of these races in one year, but here we are! I could not be more proud of my team and everyone involved, especially our dealers for all their hard work this year.
“It was pretty remarkable to finish the weekend with both Energy North American pilots inside the top-5 out of 162 entries”
CKN: We were both in Italy for the Rok Finals, by far the biggest and most competitive race in the world for Mini drivers and you had not one, but three drivers in the top-5, including two North Americans. Talk about what has made the Energy Kart so successful in the Mini categories.
DW: If I told you our secret then I would have to kill you, haha just kidding. I think the success of the Energy Kart comes mostly from the hard work and determination by everyone at the Team Energy Corse Racing factory. Those guys do not sleep it seems and their hard work is now showing in the product they give us and the results and championships that have developed because of that. We have a world championship product.
It was pretty remarkable to finish the weekend with both Energy North American pilots inside the top-5 out of 162 entries in their category alone. Both Connor and Luca Mars had to pass ten plus karts in a 12-lap final to finish where they did. They had their work cut out for them and they delivered.
CKN: You just recently agreed to a deal that will see another young American with huge potential join your team for the Florida Winter Tour. How excited are you to see Diego LaRoque on an Energy Kart?
DW: We are really delighted to welcome an International Final Champion talent like Diego to the team. I personally have watched Diego race since his first days in a kart and I was there, in Italy, when he became the Rotax Micro Max Grand Finals Champion. His talent, speed and ability to pass other drivers whenever he wants, has always impressed me and I can not wait to see what he can do on our Energy Storm chassis. It should be a lethal combination to try and get our third straight Mini Rok Florida Winter Tour championship for Energy Kart as a whole.
CKN: It was a successful year for you at home here in Canada as well. Marco Signoretti defended the ECKC Briggs Senior Title and Avery Miller earned Energy Karts the Canadian National title. How important is it to you to be successful not just internationally but nationally as well?
DW: It’s just as important if not more, in my opinion. It’s where we are from and it has always been our main objective to bring homegrown talent to the forefront.
Marco Signoretti has been with the team since 2014 when we first switched to Energy Kart and he has become a great ambassador for the Energy brand. He’s now found success at all levels of karting starting at local club levels, then at national events and now internationally. I am proud of him and what he has achieved to this point, even if he has given me a lot of headaches to go with it, haha.
Avery signed with us at the beginning of 2017, about a year ago to date. We had sat down with what we wanted to achieve this year and I think its safe to say we achieved them. Avery and his dad have been great to work with all year long and we are really happy to have them on the team. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for him as I am sure 2017 was just the beginning.
CKN: Another question about racing in Canada in 2018. What are your plans for a team?
DW: We plan on running three championships in Canada for 2018. The new Ron Fellows National Championship and Champion Ron Fellows Karting Championship for the Rok Cup, and Coupe de Montreal for our customers that want to race Rotax. All three Championships offer up great opportunities for all participants to receive a ticket to some sort of International or national event with great prizes and rewards for the taking. We have interest from our customers for all these events so we will go where we need to support them, Ontario or Quebec. We will obviously support all these events for our Briggs customers as well.
“Dan and Andy have been a major, major part of our success in 2017 and I am happy that they will be fully part of the program again for 2018.”
CKN: This year we saw a great partnership develop between yourself and the Schlosser’s, Dan and Andy. What has it been like working with them as you continue to push the brand not only in Canada but the USA too?
DW: I can not say enough good things about the Schlosser family. The relationship started last year at the 2016 Supernationals and it has been an effortless transition right from the beginning. Dan and Andy have been a major, major part of our success in 2017 and I am happy that they will be fully part of the program again for 2018.
When you have two people like Dan and Andy that share the same drive and determination as I do to win races and championships, then eventually those wins and championships will come and that’s exactly what has happened. Just so happened that our first win together came at the very first race we did together, followed by the Florida Winter Tour Championship less than two months later. It didn’t take long to see what success the Energy/Posi-mo partnership could generate.
CKN: Finally, looking at 2018, what are your goals for the team and the Energy Corse brand?
DW: Well there is no doubt that 2017 will be hard to beat for Energy Corse, but we are looking to continue our success in the Mini category for 2018 with even more championships across North America.
“Without the support of our dealers, customers, sponsors and everyone at the factory in Italy, this would not have been the year it was.”
We have a really good line up of drivers in the Junior and Senior ranks this year as well and will be looking to put a full assault on our full-size kart program as well. We turned a lot of heads at this years SKUSA SummerNationals, proving that our Energy “Space” chassis is one of the best in the market and can win races and championships. We plan on showing that in 2018. Our Energy 4C chassis is now a proven National and Regional Championship winning kart in the Briggs LO206 categories and we will be looking to defend those titles in 2018, as well as gain some throughout Canada and the US.
I am looking forward to next season, and seeing what it has in store for us and the Energy brand. It should be fun.
Lastly, I just want to thank everyone that has been involved in the success of the Energy brand here in North America this year. Without the support of our dealers, customers, sponsors and everyone at the factory in Italy, this would not have been the year it was. Jim Zilisch (Connor’s dad) and Gary Willis of Late Apex Kartworks powered by Team Fellon, have put countless hours into Connor’s racing and Gary has done an amazing job in getting Connor to the top step. Connors success to date has a lot to do with Gary. Dan and Andy for all they do for the team and Energy. Jimmy Simpson at Energy kart Midwest, Mike at Speed Concepts Racing, Energy Kart USA, Core Karting and Seth at Nash Motorsportz. Thanks again for a great year and I’m looking forward to 2018, it should be one for the books.