On Saturday, March 14th at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Show, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park co-owner Ron Fellows shared some thoughts with regards to the facility’s karting plans for 2015.
“Our goal here is to continue to grow the youth and those who are keen on making a career out of auto racing, and it starts at karting – there’s no argument about that,” Fellows said. “Every great racecar driver on the planet starts at karting. Canada has been a hot bed for that for a couple of decades. The growth that we’ve seen the last 10-12 years has been substantial, and since ’02, it’s been near and dear to my heart. We’ve seen the playing field get leveled, create some rules stability, and it’s critical in driving talent development as opposed to what’s the latest and greatest and got to have it. This is another step in trying to continue to provide some support for the grassroots level.”
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park announced plans at the end of the 2014 season to expand and grow their karting facility, and part of that includes hiring Daniel Di Leo. Di Leo will be in charge of running the facility, just as he has done for the past several years with Goodwood Kartways.
“Very excited about the new acquisition of the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Karting Center,” Di Leo commented. “We’ve run the karting facility at Goodwood for years and were excited with how that was going. Now with the two facilities and being able to build something between the championships, an inter-club championship if you would, we feel we have introduced the platform for a successful program in Ontario. We’ve had club level karting happening at the two facilities, between Goodwood and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, two of the healthiest clubs in Ontario.
The 2015 season will mark the debut of the Champion Ron Fellow’s Karting Challenge, which is a four-race Ontario karting series featuring a pair of the province’s top facilities.
“With the opportunity to use both facilities and the foundation of both clubs, this inter-club challenge is something to get excited about,” Di Leo expressed. “It’s an opportunity to give Ontario kart racers from the grassroots an opportunity to compete in an increased level of competition, but do it at a controlled cost environment. We hope to bring it up to a level that grassroots clubbers can enjoy and develop their skills on.”
Di Leo added that there’s a lot of excitement in watching corporate companies, like Goodwood and Canadian Tire, get involved with karting as it adds credibility, something he feels karting is deserving of.
“Karting, in my opinion, is the best kept secret,” he continued. “When you look at a show like this and how many different elements of motorsports there are in our country and obviously we’re passion about, it all starts in karting. Finally, we’re taking karting to a level that they can learn about it and get involved in a bunch of different ways, from arrive to drive, to club leveling and national events. I’m excited because you have this ladder system that can introduce the public at the arrive and drive level, and watch them progress as they’re comfortable through the different levels.”
The series will debut at Goodwood Kartways on May 9th, before running at CTMP on July 25th and August 16th. The champion will then be crowned on September 12th at Goodwood.
CTMP will also play host for to the ASN Canada FIA Canadian Karting Championships from August 20th to 23rd. The event will feature 200 plus of the top karting drivers from Canada as they vow to become the Canadian champion.
“It’s another big event for Canadian Tire Motorsports Park,” Fellows shared. “It’s the best of the best across the country in karting, and we’re really looking forward to being able to host that, and actually watch some of the events. That’s coming up in late August. With our partners and input from Daniel and (ASN’s) Paul (Cook), we have not only resurfaced, but reconfigured some sections of the karting track. There’s new buildings – the infrastructure around it has been improved. We’ve had a bunch of new asphalt, so we’re excited about 2015 for the karting facility.”
The excitement is excited by Di Leo, who has been involved in the event as a driver at the age of 14, all the way to a promotor with Goodwood Kartways hosting the event twice in the past five years.
“You’re talking about 200+ karters from across the country,” Di Leo emphasized. “Bringing them to this facility that’s second to none and try and create an event that creates memories for years to come. In terms of the championship, whether you’re a driver, team owner, running the event or promoter of it, there’s a role level that you feel special to be apart of it. I have the ability to be involved in a bunch of different roles throughout the years. So looking forward to it.
“It’s not an easy task for sure. It’s the one event that is all about promoting what karting racing has become, and ASN has a big part of that, and I can tell you the attention to detail, mainly because the guy at the end of the table, all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted. We have no choice but to make sure it’s done at the highest level – higher than other motorsports events in the country.”
Di Leo added that there’s excitement for the karters as nobody will have a home field advantage with the facility being so new.
The event comes with bragging rights as each class winner will get to represent Team Canada as part of the 2015 ROTAX World Finals in Portugal from November 8th to November 14th at International Karting Circuit of Portimao.
“Canada is known for producing extraordinary drivers,” ASN’s Paul Cook mentioned. “We have the record for the most world champions in the ROTAX program. We’re not sure whether it’s the water, or having people like Ron set the goals for the people. Whatever it is, it’s working for us and it’s really a proud moment to see Team Canada members at these events during the driver’s presentation. We’re looking forward to another session of the World Championship in Portugal.”