At last, the time has come! Racers all over Canada (with exception of some of our snowy Mid-Western friends) are hitting the track and preparing for their first race-day. Many having all of their gear, equipment and kart lined up and others using the last-minute method. Either way, the excitement remains the same. There are very few things in a racer’s life that overcomes the feeling you get from setting tires on the track for the first time in months. On my second day of practice, a question struck in conversation with my driver coach Gerald Caseley Jr. and his ADM (Advanced Dynamic Motorsports) team. We were talking about how others take to our sport, and the question that came across was “Why racing?” There are a million different answers to this and I felt the need to discuss this with the karting world on a search for your responses.
Racing for me, is my reasoning. It’s an outlet for me when sometimes life’s mole-hills turn into mountains. There is something so liberating about being out there, pushing yourself to your limit and remaining solely focused on the one task before you – to win. Whether that “winning” is against a field of opponents, or a battle against your last performance, it does not matter. I’m not sure if it’s the taste of independence that racing casts upon that intrigues me, but it certainly takes a toll. It has changed my mindset in many positive aspects and taught me many life lessons that cannot be learned in a Junior High classroom. As crazy as it may seems, I owe my self-growth and success to that small Briggs & Stratton LO206 engine and the CRG chassis sitting in my garage. It has forced me to expand my comfort zone and to not be afraid when I step out of those lines. No longer am I afraid of certain situations I’m not familiar with, think it through and stick your nose in when there’s a chance (try to avoid aggressive contact with someone in real life though, may not end well).
Many of us are familiar with the driver’s aspect of things, but how about the point-of-view of the backbone of this sport, the parents? A parent – who spends not only large sums of money, but sinks countless hours and effort into this sport. Why sacrifice all of those valuable things for a semi-dangerous activity for your child to participate in? Some may call racing families insane, and I suppose there is a certain degree of insanity that goes along with it, but thank god for that. I don’t believe that you can put a price on that special bond racing brings. As this question lingered my mind, I needed an answer. I thought and thought and came to conclusion that there wouldn’t be another person better to ask than Jason Riley, the father of Austin Riley. A young man who not only battles his competitors, but battles Autism as well – and ends up on top in both aspects. As we learn in racing, there will be times and situations that aren’t in your favor and when the odds are stacked up against you. Austin is the perfect example of overcoming that adversity and not letting anything hold him back from victory.
“We tried racing as a last resort after many failures to help Austin find something he enjoyed and would be accepted at. Racing has become more than a hobby or a sport for Austin. It has become a form of therapy for him and a necessity. He has no choice but to learn how to cope and adapt. This explains how Austin’s maturity and growth as a person has coincided with his progression as a racer” continued Riley. “I am glad we found a fit for Austin with racing…..because I am not sure where we would be without it.”
That being said, although I may only speak for myself, I believe racing is far more than meets the eye and largely affects anyone involved. It brings family, friends, teammates, racing enthusiasts and fans all together as one. The joy from one racing family spills over to inspire others and portrays the positive energy we hold. The track is a place where no matter who you may be, where you come from, or your situation, you are considered equal. Racing breathes success.
So now I ask you, CKN nation: Why racing? Answers accepted below in the comments section.
-#614, Graci Young
** 14 year-old Graci Young blogs exclusively for Canadian Karting News in her column: Talk To The Helmet. She resides in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and currently competes in the Briggs & Stratton Junior division at events Regionally and Nationally.