By Max Preston, for CanadianKartingNews.com
The Canadian Karting industry is one that is dominated by several teams and factions, all representing something unique. Most bring large racing trailers with a squad of drivers and an army of tuners and mechanics to each event, and each one specializes in some particular area of karting. But one team is focused on making a difference for their drivers in a more personal kind of way.
Nestled among these large, purpose built racing rigs is a small but hardly unproven racing team known as Maranello North America. They may not arrive with a big rig setup like the larger teams, but unpacking from the tight trailer opens up not only a professional tent and atmosphere, but also a world of experience and expertise that is nearly unmatched by any rivaling organization in the paddock today.
Lead by long time North American karting veteran Trevor Wickens of Hamilton, Ontario, this team has built its program on years of learning the business, understanding the chassis, testing and re-testing every kind of possible combination to ensure a total understanding of the karts and engines. Trevor’s team has a strong focus on synergy between one another. It is operated under the guise that everyone can benefit from each other and that the entire driver lineup holds a personal relationship with Trevor, to ensure a frictionless and successful atmosphere under the tent.
“I try to sit down and have dinner with at least one of them once a week,” explains Wickens. “It helps to keep an open door policy.”
This open door policy is highly important to Trevor and Maranello North America, this team has been labeled as a stepping-stone for drivers who are looking to make the jump from karting to cars. Along with keeping this personal relationship, the team prides itself on being able to coach and grow these young drivers in hopes that one day they will be able to make a name for themselves.
Slowing developing in the last few years, Trevor has begun to manage some of his previous and current racers, in hopes of having them reach the top of their career and represent Trevors efforts. ‘Prime Management’ has now become an integral part of the program for Trevor, allowing him to help push his clients into the right direction, keep them focused and gives him a hand in the decisions that will determine what steps they will take in the future.
Prime Management isn’t just a whole new world for Trevor, it allows him to gain contacts and spread out his network of teams, agents, and organizations that are always searching for the latest talent. It gives Maranello North America the clear advantage for anyone who is looking to move from karting and into cars.
Along with managing his drivers, Trevor is also known for getting deep into the planning of a test session or debriefing the drivers and reviewing data. Rather than being simply just a manager, Trevor acts as a mentor and is more of a ‘jack of all trades’ type.
Maranello DD2 Masters pilot Stu Clark, who has graduated into the Canadian Touring Car Championship, details what its like to have Trevor as a mentor at the track. “Prior to track events we make a game plan. After each run, based on our debrief, Trevor’s observations, reviewing data and in-car footage we adjust to improve and go again.”
Along with having this second set of eyes, Trevor also handles all driver negotiations personally, putting a focus on pure driver improvement, rather than letting them get hindered up in the diplomatic process of being a driver.
Another client of Trevors program has moved on from racing at the front of the Rotax Senior category to racing Formula Renault 2.0 all across Europe. Luke Chudleigh was the first to operate with the newly formed Prime Management but he had humble beginnings as a kid who was just learning the sport at Hamilton Kart Club. After working for several years together, and becoming close friends off the racetrack, his now full time manager and still a long-time mentor and representing Luke around the world.
“He [Trevor] comes to nearly all my Formula Renault races. In car racing you get a very limited amount of track time (compared to karting) – there is much more time between sessions to dwell on bad performance,” Chudleigh explains. “More so than in karting you really need a manager/cheerleader/bully to whip you into the head-space you need to be to perform in car racing.”
Having that supportive backbone to lean on when times get tough is always important. For Luke and Stuart, it was the challenge of racing a new, powerful racecar in foreign placces that made Trevors support that much more meaningful, its integral in his belief that everyone is being looked after.
In his early days, he was just working his hardest to get him and younger brother Robert to the top of any podium they can get. Growing up, they were spending days and weeks at racetracks together, testing everything on the engine and chassis and hammering out lap times to try and find all the speed they can. They became a winning force that made a name for both of these kids. Robert, driving the kart to the finish line and Trevor as the tuner, made sure it arrived with the best setup he can come up with. When Robert moved on to Formula BMW, Trevor still attended every race, making a point to support his brother and support the team in any way he can. Skills learned here ten years ago that would stick with him for life.
“If I was down or couldn’t figure something out, he’d just know what the right questions were, to help me solve what I was going through,” younger brother Robert, who now races for Mercedes in the Deutsche Touring Masters (DTM), remembers.
The experience is unmatched, and the professionalism is unrivaled in this extremely competitive industry. Prime Management is always finding new ways to catapult its latest drivers onto the center stage. Today, the current disciple of Trevor Wickens is another Maranello driver who has been making some astounding progress in these last two years.
“Trevor has taught me nearly everything I know about karting. Trevor is always the first person to tell me when I have done something wrong. He’s not being negative or pessimistic necessarily; rather he is simply showing me no matter how well the session may have gone there is always room for improvement,” asserts Fred Woodley who recently finished fourth at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Spain.
2015 is shaping up to be an enormous year for Woodley. He has his sights set on competing in North America and Europe, still sharpening his skills and gaining his overseas experience behind the wheel of a Rotax DD2, all under the tutelage of Wickens.
Together, Fred and Trevor are looking to build their current relationship and take the world on by storm.
Trevor understands the importance of having these types of connections and experiences when these drivers jump to the next step. His mission and beliefs allow the drivers the form a friendship with him that will last long into their career. Whether it’s Luke Chudleigh, Stuart Clark, Robert Wickens or current DD2 driver Fred Woodley, Trevor Wickens is always finding new ways to expose his clientele to the professional world, and grooming the future talent of the sport, year by year.