~ by Daniel Demaras ~

In 2019, I finished the year as the K1RS Points Champion, and qualified for the 2020 K1 Speed e-World Championship. We bought plane tickets, booked the hotel, and were ready for the March 2020 event in sunny Southern California. That event would encounter a couple twists in the road, before finally being held in July 2023.

K1 Circuit is located in Winchester CA, a small town out in the desert, two hours from Los Angeles. We arrived as the sun was rising, and already it was boiling hot. Everyone knew the desert sun would be part of the experience, and yet, getting out of the air-conditioned car was still a jarring moment. It was hot!

I got the chance to walk the track ahead of morning practice. The layout was unique, with technical twisty sections, elevation changes and hard braking zones. This track would certainly be a challenge to master. The international drivers were the third group of practice, giving us the chance to watch the Americans. Drivers experimented with different approaches and often found themselves in the runoff areas, kicking up clouds of dust. With the quiet electric motors, you could hear just how much racers were sliding, from the squealing of the tires.

We had two practice sessions in the morning, and there was certainly a steep learning curve. This was my first time in a kart since late 2021, and I had never raced anything like this in my life. The karts had tremendous torque, strong front and rear brakes, but were exceptionally low on grip. I had to adapt to the unique handling characteristics, but after the morning I felt confident going into qualifying.

After the lunch break, the American championship was scheduled to take place. However, the heat took its toll on the equipment, and the event was delayed for a number of hours. We took refuge in the air conditioned comfort of our rental car, waiting for karts to hit the track. I spent the time catching up with our friend Ryan J. from K1 Speed in Irvine, as well as Anthony R. and Jason A. from K1 Speed back home in Toronto. It brought back so many memories of what a fun place to race K1 Speed really is!

The American racers went out for their abridged championship sessions, and as they wrapped up their race, the sun was low in the sky. We were sent out for the World Championship qualifying, and as the session went on, it became remarkably difficult to see anything. After qualifying, the officials made the decision to postpone the championship race until the next day.

Sunday morning was probably the quickest day of racing in my entire career. We arrived at 7:15 am, and by 8:00 am, we were on track for practice. The track was not as grippy as it was late on Saturday after cooling off overnight.

After practice, we were sent right back out for the race. Starting toward the back of the field, I was aggressive at the start, making up a position in the hairpin, but I struggled for power after the exit of corners. I fought ruthlessly against other drivers, defending and overtaking, back and forth all race long. It was an unceremonious finish, but a lot of fun, and I provided some racing entertainment for the spectators.

Yes, I was all smiles during the competition, but ultimately I was disappointed that I didn’t repeat my podium finish from the last K1 Speed e-World Championship. When I qualified for that event in 2019, I had no wins in club karting, and it was the biggest event I’d ever taken part in.

But now, after two K1RS Points Championships, two CRKC Championships, back-to-back TRAK Championships, and the step-up to open-wheel racing in the Canadian Formula 1200 Championship, I could just enjoy the kart racing experience without any pressure or expectation.

On any given weekend, I’m competing in different cars in several racing disciplines, with the sponsorship of K1 Speed backing me. I’m very proud that my ‘official’ retirement from kart racing could take place at an event as fantastic as the 2023 K1 Speed e-World Championship. Together with my family, we’ll never forget the experience.

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