First off I would like to give a huge thanks to CanadianKartingNews.com for inviting me to come out and report on location with them at the 15th Annual ASN Canadian National Championships in Stouffville, Ontario at Goodwood Kartways. It was such an opportunity, and I was honored to represent such a professional and unique media company! Throughout the weekend I was extremely busy getting back in touch with all of the Canadian karting community. It was amazing to see everyone again; I consider them all my family. This was where I got my start; they are the roots to my career. Everyone welcomed me back to Canada with such open arms, and I thank them for that! Nothing like Canadian karting, the friendliest events of racing in the world! I would also like to thank Racing With Autism and driver Austin Riley for choosing me as a driver coach for the event practices early in the week. It was wonderful working with Austin, and together I felt we made some big improvements with his driver development.
My week at the Canadian Nationals all started out with working with a very talented individual in the practice sessions as a driver coach. The driver was Austin Riley of Racing with Autism and Energy Canada. Most everyone knows, but for some viewers who don’t yet Austin is Autistic. Everyone judges a book by its cover, they don’t realize the challenges facing Austin and what he has to just overcome to even get in the kart. In my eyes, it’s a win every time he just steps in the kart. Austin has found what he truly loves which is motorsport, but that’s not all he found. He found a sport that is the hardest to compete at the top level, but Austin has a gift. He is naturally talented. How is that possible you ask? In a sport where its the minute adjustments to your hands and feet working the wheel and pedals that makes the difference, and it’s the search of just tenths of a second to make the difference. Somehow, Austin Riley is extremely fast. All throughout practice Austin was one of the fastest, right with the leaders times. Don’t underestimate this kid, first year Junior Rotax. A lot of people don’t take that into consideration. Give him a couple years to get settled in, and comfortable. One thing I really like about this kid is he’s eager to learn once he trusts you. Most kids at his age, especially boys tend to have a “my way or the highway” personality. They won’t listen to anything, because they think they know everything. Austin is the opposite; once he knows you he listens very well to anything on and off track. You just have to make sure it was clear. Most the times Austin didn’t listen to me it was due to my confusing race terminology explanations. Once we started to understand each other, we got faster and faster together. I would like to thank Racing with Autism, the Riley’s and most of all Austin. They treated me like family while I worked with them, and extremely easy family to work and get along with. I wish them the best of luck with future racing and ventures!
CanadianKartingNews.com Live Chat
For the remainder of the Canadian Nationals week I ran the CKN Live Chat for the CKN Nation to have live updates throughout Qualifying, Heats, and Finals. I also caught up with many people I haven’t seen due to my European racing. Along with those I handed out stickers and sold CKN T-Shirts to all of the supporting CKN fans! So awesome to see that “Sea of Red” CKN T-Shirts throughout the week and especially on Championship Sunday! Made me really proud to be apart of CKN, there’s not another karting media out there like it! I can’t say enough good about Cody Schindel of CKN. The Canadian karting community has no idea how lucky they are to have him in the sport. Such a professional promoter of our beloved sport and young and upcoming talent. He is giving Canadian karters the best shot at being recognized nationally and internationally and becoming professional. And as far as media for karting goes, CKN slaughters the competition. All because of the hundreds and thousands of dedicated hours Cody puts in. I can’t thank him enough for inviting me to be on his team, and representing his company! Also a shout out to all the CKN Nation, for being an awesome audience with my on the Live Chat, and at the track! I appreciate your support of me and my racing. It means a lot!!
The Event In My Eyes
The Canadian National Championships is the most prestigious event in Canada to not only win, but to compete in. The amount of attention the event gets not only in Canada, but also in North America and the worldwide is quite amazing! For a Canadian driver it is the most important race on the calendar in the racing season for a reason! The event was as always, upmost professional. One thing that I did see noticeably this year though compared to recent years was the involvement in more media! When I raced the Canadian Nationals it barely had any media companies play in any role for the drivers. I look now, and it was amazing the role media companies like CKN play for the drivers. The actual driver promotion itself was huge! Drivers now a days are actually being recognized to public, and this is perfect for getting our up and coming Canadian star drivers the best shot they have at reaching the goal to becoming a professional race car driver. Truly amazing to see! Another improvement that ASN Canada made for the Canadian National Championships was there new Camera systems. I got a grand tour from ASN Canada’s Paul Cook who was very proud of the new system. I was absolutely impressed to say the least. The system was up to par, if not better than what we have in European events. Props to ASN Canada for leading the way in technology in North America. It’s good to see this development, and it makes me excited to see what’s in store for the future! The one thing I think the Canadian Nationals unfortunately lacked was live streaming video. It was unfortunately out of the CKN Crews hand. On the bright side there is something to improve on for next year because other than that the 15th Annual Canadian National Championships was flawless!
There were a lot of new faces to this years Canadian Nationals Championships. Not as in drivers, but Engine Builders and Mechanics. I had a really good talk with Ben Cooper on the matter and he confirmed to me of just how much growth Canadian karting was done in the last two years. Europe’s best European team owners, mechanics and engine tuners from Rotax have all hopped across the pond for this years Canadian National Championship. Peter Kalman, Josh Hart, Team DFR, HRS Racing Engines, Supertune, Ogden, and JVD Tuning are all examples that the Canadian market is an interest world wide through out karting, and that karting in North America is growing immensely and rapidly! The same cycle I predict very well could happen karts as it did in Motocross. Being that my dad has a background of racing dirt bikes, he knows the cycle that took place. When he was growing up Europe was the place to be for Motocross, the Euro’s dominated the North Americans. A few North Americans decided that the only way the we’re gonna beat the Euros was go play in their back yard and learn the language of their racing essentially. As time moves on the North Americans started placing well, then coming back on home turf and laying a whooping on their own blood. Then all of the North Americans starting picking up the language of the Euros. Once that happened we started putting our own twists to it, and now its game over. The North Americans are hands down dominant on riding a dirt bike over the Euros. Kind of cool to see the situation the Nationals preset to us. Zachary Claman DeMelo dominated the weekend in Senor Rotax, Devlin Defrancesco and Gianfranco Mazzaferro ran 1-2 clear of the field the whole weekend in Junior Rotax, and Antonio Serravalle ran away with it in Mini Max. All four with major European experience. Most competitors have the wrong idea about this situation. They don’t like these three dominating, and don’t like to see them running with the Canadian field of drivers. It’s not about winning at this stage of your career, it’s about learning if you are looking to make it to cars professionally. You should be focused on learning from these drivers with such experience in the highest level of competition in the world. Learning from them will not only give you a better chance to beat them, but it will help out Canadian karting in a nutshell. Because the more drivers that can learn from the driver’s fortunate enough to cross the pond for races, the higher quality Canada will become for kart racing. I like where Canada is headed ladies and gentlemen. We have the talent, now we just need to groom it for the world stage!
In each category I chose a driver who impressed me the most on and off track. Rotax Micro Max goes to William Chayer who drove quite well all weekend. Mathew Latifi seemed as if he would have him covered in the Final but the young star drove his heart out in the Final and laid down an absolute stellar last lap pass to take the win! Impressive from a kid of his age, I’ll be keeping an eye on him as he learns and grows as a driver! If he keeps it up he is defiantly headed somewhere, especially with the Cooper + Kalman duo along with newly formed KMS North America. I have a good feeling that with Chayer with the talent and experience of KMS North America will be very successful in the upcoming years!
For Mini Max my choice would be Antonio Serravalle who was untouchable the whole weekend. European experience clearly gave him an obvious advantage over his competitors. I think with the pace Antonio shows currently he will without a doubt be a top contender when he moves to Junior Rotax.
Junior Rotax showed some talent that I had watched before, but was never truly impressed until the Nationals. Devlin Defrancesco drove by far the best I have ever seen him drive! Not only was he fast, his race craft was the best as well. He had the full package this weekend and it showed, as he was very dominant to his other competitors.
In Senior Rotax my pick for who impressed me the most would be Zachary Claman Demelo, who drove stellar all weekend under immense pressure of seasoned veteran Pier-Luc Ouellette. ZCD was flawless in pretty much every race, and that is very difficult to do in such a competitive class as Senior Rotax. DD2 I was of coarse impressed with Pier-Luc Ouellette, but I expected his performance. The real surprise in DD2 was Fred Woodley who drove an amazing Final from the back of the pack because of tough luck in all races before. Woodley put everything together for the Final, with great passes and astonishing pace. A brilliant drive indeed!
Briggs and Stratton Senior saw Lafontaine impress me a lot. He is incredibly smart as a 4-stroke driver. He knows all the right moves; when to pass, when to draft and when to protect the line. Briggs and Stratton Junior had McCullough surprise me. He was always fast all week long, but I doubted he had enough to take the win. With a perfectly played strategic final and a beautiful last lap pass to take the win he proved me wrong.
All in all I was very impressed with the level of competition and drivers and the 15th Annual Canadian National Championships. I really like how much Canada is improving, and can’t wait to see where we are headed on the world stage as a country. Thanks for tuning in to CKN for this weeks episode of my blog! Hope you enjoyed it!
As always, to stay in touch with me, be sure to check out my website, http://parkerthompsonracing.com