A pair of Canadians raced in sunny Florida at the Daytona International Speedway. Charlotte Lalonde and Owyn Thomas were entered into the competition for the Ignite Dash at Daytona, which takes part within the World Karting Association Manufacturers Cup Daytona Kartweek.
Owyn Thomas of Pickering will make his first Ignite start and jumps up from Junior to make his Senior debut. Thomas was a regular competitor against Daniel Demaras in the Mosport International Karting Association this summer, both running in the Briggs Junior category.
At the same Daytona event, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers also took part. Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach and Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves scored race victories.
At the invitation of kart manufacturer Margay, the professional drivers competed in the Margay Senior Ignite class at the World Karting Association event. One can only imagine how difficult it was for Owyn, making his first race in Senior category against two men who’ll be in the Indy 500 this year.
Veach took the overall win in Race 1 and Chaves secured the win in Race 2 just prior to New Year’s celebrations in Florida.
“To be honest, I don’t think we really knew what to expect; karting is very unpredictable and I’ve been in situations like this where I’ve shown up and been competitive and I’ve been in situations where I might not make the final, so this was great,” said Chaves.
“With it being a spec class, it took those questions away, so if you put a good setup on the kart, you’re going to be OK. We knew anything could happen in the race, but we knew it would be fun.”
Veach says the wins at a WKA event won’t improve his odds of winning as an IndyCar rookie, but it did serve as a reminder of how important karting is for so many drivers.
“It’s good just to get back into competition and hopefully it brings us some good luck this season,” he said. “I think Gabby and I took away how much we love this sport and love karting – and having an appreciation for what we have today came from where we started in karts.”
Veach also got a feel for the talent in the Senior Ignite class…and spent time chasing young women and men who went after the IndyCar interlopers.