~ by Chris #16 Demaras ~
At the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, Canadian racer Nicholas Latifi scored his first F1 points. In the standings, he’s ahead of his highly-touted teammate George Russell, and right behind fellow Canadian, Lance Stroll.
At the end of the race, I felt some national pride!
Yet, I heard many friends at the local track dumping on Latifi’s achievement. The points were a fluke. Pure luck. No skill. Do Canadian motorsports fans actually cheer against Canadian racers?
Case in point, Indianapolis 500 winner and Canada’s only Formula 1 Champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
About 5 months ago a hatchet job appeared on YouTube called “WTF Happened to Jacques Villeneuve?“ that claimed Canada never embraced Jacques, and that he was an outsider. Two months later, Formula 1 released a “Top 10 Moments of Jacques Villeneuve Brilliance“ video that reminded fans about JV’s incredible talent and accomplishments. While 500,000+ saw the WTF video, only half that number saw the Top 10 video. Positivity sure doesn’t get views!
Earlier this year, the Villeneuve Kart was launched. That iconic baby blue and white livery on the kart made me all nostalgic about Villeneuve racing in Indy Car back in the day.
Despite my initial excitement, I was suspicious the Villeneuve Kart was just marketing fluff. Jeez, I’m just as bad as those Latifi haters!
What I didn’t know at the time was that The Race Lab in B.C. was the driving force behind this project. Villeneuve himself helped design the Area 27 track adjacent to the Kartplex track Race Lab calls home, and Jacques will continue to be involved in the initiative as a way of ‘giving back’ to racing. By helping the most grassroots of motorsports, kart racing, Villeneuve is cementing his legacy as Canada’s greatest open-wheel racer.
With former IndyCar competitor Zachary Claman DeMelo as lead driver, the JV Kart team will race throughout the 2021 season at local and regional events in B.C., then on to SuperNats in Las Vegas where ZCD will defend his X30 Senior crown this winter. Canadian Karting News did an article about ZCD driving the JV Kart to victory last month, on debut at Greg Moore Raceway. That’s a legit race team!
We all wave the flag and show off our beavers during the Olympics, but Canadians don’t give athletes like racers competing on the world stage nearly enough support. Whether it’s IndyCar or kart racing, the tendency is to diminish the achievements of home-grown heroes. Maybe living next to chest-thumping Americans has made us all too modest. But I suspect it just comes down to envy. You see people from your home town doing well (you know…Andre De Grasse went to my high school) and cannot handle the fact that someone did better than you. It’s just jealousy.
We should applaud Latifi and what he achieved for the Williams F1 team last weekend. Tell stories about when Hinchcliffe and Wickens used to race at your local kart track. Respect racing royalty like Villeneuve and how he elevated the reputation of Canada in motorsports. Canadian racers are nothing less than world-class, and when SuperNats 24 rolls around in December, I’ll be cheering for the Canadians in the blue and white JV Kart at the sharp end of the grid.