We’re getting ready for the 2021 Canadian karting season with a number of CKN Chatter interviews.
Joining us for this edition of CKN Chatter is Richard Boake. The man in charge of the Mosport Karting Centre tells us about how his first season in control and what he learned along the way. He also touches base on the Arrive & Drive program, his goals for the track, the new LeVanto Tires and more.
First off, let’s reflect on 2020. Talk about a crazy year to be your first at the helm of the Mosport Karting Centre. What were some positive moments that stood out to you from year one at Mosport?
2020 was definitely a difficult year to start a new business venture for anyone. There were already so many things that we had to learn as a team coming into this, and that was multiplied exponentially because of the circumstances we were forced to operate under. The landscape was changing regularly and we were forced to really dissect the operations side of the business to figure out how we could make everything as safe as possible for both our staff and customers. This resulted in a lot of positive takeaways from the season. We integrated a touchless online registration system for competitors across all of our platforms from general practice, to Arrive and Drive and MIKA races. This gave us the ability to limit how many people were going to be at the facility at any given time. I got to know many of the racers and understand what their needs and wants were from a competitor standpoint. We made sure that we had lots of uninterrupted track time for people that purchased practice passes and offered weekly one-on-one coaching for any Arrive and Drive members who might want it. The feedback we received was really positive, and we are still working very hard to improve on what was a great inaugural season.
What is something you unexpectedly learned along the way last year?
That’s a tough one. Coming into this I knew there was going to be a steep learning curve. I knew that in order to make things run efficiently I was going to have to have a good understanding of every aspect of the business, from timing and scoring, registration, event operations, and staffing. This forced me at some point or another to work all of these positions to get a better understanding of what is needed to perform the job correctly and make sure that our customer experience was a positive one from start to finish. With the help of some pretty incredible employees, we figured out some ways to become more efficient and provide and a better experience for our consumers.
Switching over to 2021 and starting with MIKA. There’s been a lot of awesome prize announcements for the club champions. What is the club awarding this year and what has been the motivation behind these prizes?
It was always my goal to get into this to make sure to give back to the sport that made me the person I am today. I wanted to come up with an attractive prizing program tailored towards the needs of racers depending on their age and the class they are competing in. So for instance, for the younger kids that are growing so quickly, I wanted to base the prizing around racing equipment to help their parents out. Also, for the competitors that are advancing from four-stroke to two-stroke by having engine giveaways.
We were very fortunate to have Braidan Motorsports and Lone Palm Design jump on board and help us out with these prizes. For the seniors that may be looking to make the jump from karts to cars, I wanted to give them an opportunity to see what is out there for them, so we came up with three great prizes that offer very different experiences. From driving a 1000hp Time Attack car to a Canadian Rally Champion rally car, to getting a chance to learn ice racing techniques, they will all get their feet wet in a different discipline than they are used to. Then for our Master’s category, I wanted to tailor the prize to help them keep their costs down so we gave away free entry fee for the 2022 season to our champion.
Lastly, we wanted all the champions to be awarded something they can wear with pride were able to partner up with Citizen Watch Canada for some really nice watches for the championship winners.
Do you have any goals for the club this season in terms of growth and development?
Our focus at a club level is to make sure that we are nurturing young drivers to be the best they can be. I want to make sure that we are not only supporting them for their potential racing careers down the road but also preparing them for whatever life has in store. The MIKA club has already grown this year by 50% and we could not be happier with the pre-season registrations. We have put together an attractive schedule that gives the club members the opportunity to try out new tracks and gain some experience at higher levels of competition while still offering them many races at their home facility.
How are things shaping up on the Arrive and Drive program?
The Arrive and Drive program has seen some considerable growth as well. We are currently up by 25% on pre-season registrations and still gaining a lot of traction. We are looking forward to the introduction of our trophy race schedule which will give our members the opportunity to compete in a more conventional racing format for some nice hardware.
The success of the Moradness Karting Championship gained a lot of attention last year and included an eventful stop at Mosport. Are you excited to have them back in 2021 and what is something that helps make that program stand out to kart racers of all calibers?
Yes, we are very excited to have them back out at our facility. Jess and Daniel have worked really hard putting together a program that offers great value to their competitors, and we really enjoyed working with them in 2020. This season will surely see some great on-track battles and lots of laughs along the way. It’s awesome to see that they have added the Canadian Mini Indy to their schedule. It’s going to add another element to the series that drivers and teams will have to quickly adapt to.
Touching base on the MRKFC. We’ve heard there will be some new circuits this year. Any chance you can confirm the locations of the 2021 schedule or hint when we will find out?
It’s not my position to announce but yes we’re really excited that there will be two new tracks on the schedule this year. The MRFKC team has been working very hard in the off-season securing sponsorships and ironing out the great prize packages that our competitors have come to expect. Putting the emphasis on fun, fair competition I think racers will be very happy with what’s in store for 2021. We are really excited to have confirmed participation from all the major teams in Ontario, and also Ben Cooper Racing from Quebec, and BBR Karting from BC. An official announcement of 2021 venues and prize packages will be coming soon so stay tuned.
It’s great to see the positive response to the new ROK Cup LeVanto tire down south. Has a decision been made on which tires the ROK Cup classes will utilize yet?
We have worked very closely with ROK Cup USA in securing the Levanto Tire as the spec tire for all ROK classes at the MRFKC, MIKA, HRKC, CKC, and TKC. It has always been very important to us that we stay in line with the USA to make sure that we are giving our drivers their best opportunity to compete when they travel to international races. The Levanto tires showed great pace all season long at the FWT, and from what the teams are saying they have a very long life expectancy with minimal tire degradation which will help reduce the operating costs to drivers. We have been very fortunate that we will be able to keep the retail price down to where competitors won’t see any price increase in 2021.
To wrap things up, is there anything I haven’t touched base on that you feel the karting world should be aware of about the Mosport Karting Centre for 2021?
I think we have covered most of it. We are looking forward to all the snow melting so we can get on track. For anyone who has never been to Mosport Karting Centre before but is interested in checking it out for practice or one of our club races, I encourage you to contact me directly with any questions you might have at Richard@mosportkartingcentre.com. We are always welcoming new members and look forward to guiding you through your racing journey.
Thanks Richard. Looking forward to getting back to the track this spring and seeing our racers fire up their engines and get back to competition.
Me as well! Thanks again Cody.