Last weekend I was able to travel to Warburg, Alberta for the second year in a row to cover the EDKRA Alberta Summer Challenge. Heading into the weekend I was excited to head west to cover the event after having an amazing time last summer. This event to me is what karting should be all about, a united family coming together to put on a show where everyone in the Western Canadian Karting Community can come together as one.
First off I want to tip my hat to Earl Wong, Kevin Dowler, and the rest of the Edmonton District Kart Racing Association crew for their passion for the sport and being able to take the 2017 edition of the event to new heights.
The prize list the club was able to put together was outstanding with over $25,000 in prizes as well as free entry to the ASN Canadian National Championships at Mosport and tickets to the 2018 Rotax Max Grand Finals for both Rotax Junior and Senior winners. Every fast qualifier won a cool $500.00 in addition to the $750.00 dollars dished out the race winners and the split $750.00 for the remaining podium finishers. The top three finishers on the Shifter podium also received gift certificates from Goodwood Kartways to put towards new ROK Shifter engines for the 2018 season. Also in Briggs & Stratton Senior, Jim Gregory announced at the podiums that K&K West would be supplying a kart and engine for John Buzza to compete with at the Nationals on top of his free entry. Not only do all these prizes entice people to head to Warburg every summer, but it makes it the biggest race in west ever since the Western Canadian Challenge ended in 2014.
Aside from the prizes however there is a lot of comradery between the racers, families and the organizers. No matter where you are in the paddock there is always someone to lend a helping hand whether it’s with chassis set-up or helping a fellow competitor in need. The biggest example of this comes from the Briggs & Stratton Junior 2 category during Friday’s heats when the leader, Connor Peet stopped his kart immediately after seeing another competitor flip to make sure that driver wasn’t injured. Peet’s action’s weren’t forgotten by weekends end when the club awarded him the most sportsman like driver award for his actions.
That wasn’t the only example of comradery between competitors as the Dowler family would lend Coltin McCaughan a chassis to compete in the Rotax Senior category, where he would then go on to win Sunday’s final and a ticket to the 2018 Rotax Grand Finals. Also during the red flag period in the Briggs & Stratton Senior final there were drivers and mechanics running all over the paddock to get tools and parts in order to get every kart fixed for the restart of the final. It was at this time I saw something I have never seen at a go kart race, Scott Campbell emerged from his tent with a chassis table in order to straighten a kart on the grid. It’s not often you see this respect between competitors translate into actions that are above and beyond what is expected.
The majority of the racers who competed in the event had family members either racing in the same category or in other classes on the schedule. One of the coolest sites to see was Kevin and Adam Dowler starting the heat races in Briggs & Stratton Heavy from the front row. It’s not often to see a father and son combination racing together in the same class, what makes this even more special is the fact that the Dowler family has a huge history at EDKRA and the track at Warburg ever since the original circuit was built decades ago when Kevin started racing. Griffin Dowler and Noel Dowler added to the family affair competing in Rotax Junior and Senior then both going on to share the grid in the Briggs & Stratton Senior. There where more families against each other in Briggs & Stratton Senior with two Deens, three Stevensons and the Precourt family who traveled all the way from Manitoba to compete at the event.
Finally, what got to me the most being in Warburg this weekend and last year was the appreciation the locals had for the out of towners who came to compete in the event. On Saturday morning I had a conversation with Darryl Smith who came from Austria to represent BRP Rotax and we both agreed, while in other regions the sport is taken very seriously EDKRA remains humble and keeps their family values intact in order to keep providing racers in the event a fun event to participate in. Walking around in the paddock you also hear how appreciative karters from the other provinces are of the EDKRA executives when explaining why they choose to race in Warburg every summer opposed to other big races in the country.
In closing I would like to thank the EDKRA staff for hosting another awesome Summer Challenge. If I have one thing to say it would be keep doing what you are doing because the prizes and the passion everyone at the event has will only make the event bigger. And after taking Matthew Taskinen’s kart for a few laps on Saturday afternoon I hope Cody Schindel will be able to make the trip next summer as well so I can dust of the helmet and compete in the Briggs & Stratton Senior category.