As another Canadian winter sets in, it’s time I reflect on my accomplishments, my experiences and my new found friends in the racing community. I’m not sure about you guys, but the 2014 race season seems to have gone by in a flash. Too quick for most of us, but it happens every year.
2014 was a very interesting and exciting year as I transitioned as a rookie into Sr. Rotax. As much as I would’ve enjoyed another year in Jr. Max, it was time to step up and put on my big boy pants. During the off season, I had plenty of time to think about the leap to the next level of my karting career. Our initial thoughts were to only attend a few club races in Edmonton as well as the Western Canadian Championship, but that all changed when a fantastic opportunity came my way.
In December of last year, Canadian Karting News announced their search for a 2014 Brand Ambassador. The partnership would provide an amazing opportunity for a driver to race at some of the biggest and best events in the country. With pen in hand, I immediately started to work on my drivers resume and a short essay on how I could promote both CKN and Coldstone Creamery during the 2014 karting season. After submitting my entry and two months of waiting, the winner was announced. I received a call from Cody Schindel at CKN, informing me that I was the winner! At first I was in shock, then excited, then nervous, then excited and so on. What a great opportunity to represent these companies and be exposed to the highly competitive racing community in Eastern Canada. Our initial “low key” plans to race close to home were thrown out the window and we shifted into a new direction for 2014.
Prior to the first Eastern Canadian Karting Championship race in Mosport, we were very fortunate to forge a partnership with SH Racing from Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. They would provide us with the means to compete at the ECKC events, as well as the Canadian Nationals. From the first time we met in Mosport, until the last race of the season in Mont Tremblant, the SH Team and their support staff were absolutely awesome. The atmosphere under the tent was always upbeat and positive. I think they got a kick out of my limited ability to speak French, but I had fun trying. In the end, SH Racing played a huge part on how my racing season in Eastern Canada would play out.
As part of the 2014 Brand Ambassador sponsorship, CKN and Coldstone Creamery provided me with a custom made Freem race suit, a Bell GP2 racing helmet with detailed paint work from Polen Designs, and a wicked decal package from KartDavid Graphics. Rolling up to each event with my custom race gear was a new feeling for me, as I’ve never had the honour to represent any group, company, or major brand. Now that I had the corporate image, I needed to show that I didn’t just come to look pretty.
For myself, the season kicked off in Mosport for the start of the ECKC. Although the previous event that I participated in was the Grand Finals, I’ll admit that as the new guy on the block, I was slightly intimidated. Of the four tracks that I raced in Eastern Canada this year, I had only previously driven one. So as much as I would’ve loved to kick butt, I had to look at the realities of where I was racing. In the end my efforts would bring me plenty of unforgettable races, hard luck, new friendships, and a championship podium. But regardless of where I was driving, or where I aimed to finish, my ultimate goal was to leave the Easterns with more knowledge and skill then I brought with me. And as I sit writing this, it puts a smile on my face knowing that next year I’ll be able to bring loads more to the table.
“I managed to finish in the top-3 at all of the major Canadian events. As fulfilling as this should be, I’m still disappointed that I came up short on three different occasions.”
After an amazing performance at Goodwood Kartways, I moved West to what would be the start of another successful series. Since SH Racing wasn’t attending the WCC, I would end up running independently, powered by Black Racing Engines and driver coach/tuner Brent Bolster. After big success in 2013, it was an easy decision to run another Black Racing Engine built by Chris Black. His level of support throughout the Western series was second to none. For those unaware, Brent Bolster and I met seven years ago at a car show in Calgary and if I hadn’t of met him, I probably would’ve never had a start in karting. Fast forward seven years, and who would’ve thought we’d be working together on earning a ticket to the Grand Finals! Thanks to everyones efforts, the WCC would end with another championship podium in the books, and tons of memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.
The biggest event of the year was the Canadian Nationals. Once again I was back under the SH tent hunting down a spot on Team Canada. Throughout the week we had to overcome many challenges. But by the end of the weekend, my knowledge of the track and my AV Performance Engine would pull me through to another podium finish. With the Canadian Nationals podium finish under my belt, I managed to finish in the top-3 at all of the major Canadian events. As fulfilling as this should be, I’m still disappointed that I came up short on three different occasions.
So as you can see, it’s been one hell of a year. I’ve been given the opportunity to share each and every experience that I’ve had with the CKN Nation. On that note, I’m truly grateful for everything that Cody Schindel and the rest of the CKN team have done for me. With the help of Coldstone Creamery, Bell Helmets, Polen Designs, Freem Racewear, KartDavid Graphics, SH Racing, AV Preformance and Black Racing Engines, you’ve managed to give a kart racer an opportunity unlike no other. Not only to make a name for himself, but an opportunity to prove himself in places he’s never raced before. Thanks to you guys, 2014 will be a year that I will never forget.
My last thank you goes out to my family for giving me the opportunity to pursue my racing passion and for helping me develop the skills required to succeed in life and be a true professional on and off the track.
Best of luck to the entire racing community in 2015.