Article by Spencer Lewis.
One look at 9-Year Old Christian Alger on track with the Waterloo Regional Kart Club (at Flamboro Speedway) and he looks like any other rising star. The Waterdown, ON native – the youngest of three
brothers currently competing in the talent-laden Kart club – debuted in 2013 with the club’s Cadet class and made an immediate impression, finishing second in the 2014 championship points standings. This season, Christian has moved to the intensely competitive Novice class and currently owns a 17-point lead in the race for the 2015 championship with three events remaining.
However, for Christian’s father Todd Alger, Christian’s racing has always been more about social interaction than winning trophies. That’s because, prior to his integration into Karting, Christian often
found difficulty identifying and expressing his feelings and communicating with others. Diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at the age of 7, Christian’s improvement both at home and at school was noticed almost immediately after taking up Karting.
“Christian would come to the track to watch his brothers race but never showed any interest in driving,” explains Todd. “He would analyze their driving, but was afraid it was too dangerous to take part. But, he warmed up to it when he realized he had a friend younger than him racing – then he wanted to try it. After 20-laps of practice, he was hooked. We signed him up with WRKC two weeks later.”
“We started seeing a change in him once he started competing,” continues Todd. “Christian has always struggled with communication. But, now when he comes off of the race track, he’ll tell us about the feel of the Kart and what other drivers around him are doing. He’s become more social with both his peers and his parents – both at the track and at home. Which is amazing.”
“At first, Christian was very non-expressive, but after several podium finishes he now high-fives his fellow competitors, which is a huge step forward for him. We can only attribute that to his experience in Karting.”
Christian has developed a bond with a number of veteran racers over the course of his three seasons in competition, including longtime standouts Lucas Smith, Adam Racine and TJ Marshall.
“These guys have taken Christian under their wing,” says Todd. “They’ve really developed a relationship which, as a parent, is amazing to witness. They’ve helped with his race craft and Christian really
does look up to them. He trusts their advice and isn’t afraid to come out of his shell now if they suggest that he tries something.”
“When Christian is at the racetrack, everything else just takes a backseat,” adds Todd. “When he’s on track, he isn’t worried about a thing. It’s just him and his Kart working his way through the pack.”
“We have a non-pressure approach to Karting – with all of our boys. We’re in it for the fun, development and personal growth of our children. Christian has met some amazing friends while racing that accept him for who he is. Most of his competitors don’t even know he’s autistic. We never use it as a crutch or an excuse for his actions.”
“A lot of people just thought Christian was ‘anti-social’,” continues Todd. “But, now, we’re trying to raise awareness for autism and the benefits of Karting for kids within the spectrum. Kart racing teaches
patience, discipline, focus and respect at a young age. And that’s something everyone can benefit from.”
The Waterloo Regional Kart Club was established in 1981 and features outlets for racers aged 7 to 70 in 6 different classes. Saturday morning Go Kart racing at Flamboro Speedway runs from May to October with free admission for spectators.
To learn more, visit www.WRKC.on.ca