This weekend, Goodwood Kartways held their first two ‘open-house’ sessions for new racers to the CRKC series. Daniel Demaras moved up from the CRKC series years ago, and Chris Demaras is a ‘veteran’ racer. But the Demaras guys just looked at it as an opportunity to return to Goodwood for a quick look around the track.
Sure, there’s a lake on the inside of Turn 1. And there’s a big snowbank leading into Turn 4. But the track actually looks better today than it did for spring training in 2019.
Daniel couldn’t resist the temptation to open up Garage K-12 to see if there was a layer of ice on the floor like last year. Turns out K-12 was used for kart storage, so the padlock was quickly secured before anyone noticed.
After a long off-season, spring training in only few weeks away!
Yesterday I saw an article on CKN that I’ve kind of read before. It’s the annual ‘Arrive & Drive Graduates’ article from Goodwood Kartways. Every year the DiLeo family advances 10 to 20 of the best A&D drivers to club racing. The racers get their own kart, engine, stand and a spot on the Scholarship Team.
I remember going through the same process with my son Daniel 3 years ago. In 2016, Daniel won two CRKC championships; one at Goodwood and one at Mosport. The decision to move up to club racing at MIKA and TRAK for the 2017 season was an exciting new challenge. He’d finally have his own racing kart.
“There is nothing quite like witnessing the excitement on the face of a driver seeing their new kart for the first time.”
Dan Di Leo, Goodwood Kartways
Looking back now, the challenges that first year were immense. In A&D you just drive. You don’t set air pressures or choose gear. There’s no chassis changes between sessions. And if it starts raining you’re still driving on slicks! You learn to adapt to the conditions and adapt your driving style to the kart.
The transition to club racing is hard. That first race, you likely have no idea about setup, so you’re behind the eight ball. By the second race, set screws start loosening up, alignment is off, and you have no idea why you’re at the back of the pack. For A&D drivers who are used to winning, suddenly getting their butts kicked is a shock to the system. Talented racers are getting lapped, and they can’t understand why from a mechanical standpoint, so they lose confidence and blame their driving. After a few more races, those same rookie racers are missing from the paddock; phantom injuries, money troubles, family commitments that happen on race days. Any excuse not to go back to the track and get destroyed again. That’s why so few stay in karting beyond that first year.
Moving up must include joining a good team, because you just cannot do it alone. Without experienced people around to teach you the ABCs of kart setup and maintenance, it’ll be very hard to find success. We spent the first year with James Treadwell’s VRS team at Mosport before moving to Goodwood and joining Curtis and Darryl’s PRO team. Without their help, I don’t think Daniel and I would still be racing today.
Understanding that the future of karting depends on growth at the grassroots level, Goodwood Kartways is excited to announce its 2020 driver line up in the Goodwood Kartways Scholarship Team Program. Now in its twelfth year, the program has produced the largest group in its history. In total, 22 drivers are set to graduate from Canada’s largest Arrive and Drive program and into club-level competition with the Toronto Racing Association of Karters.
The graduating class includes twelve drivers under the age of 11 years old, with seven of them beginning their karting careers in Briggs Cadet. Eighteen drivers will be powered by Briggs & Stratton, with four drivers opting for more horsepower and a Vortex Rok powerplant.
2020 Goodwood Kartways Arrive and Drive Graduates include:
After 10 regular season races, and two semi-final races, the Goodwood CRKC Final was held on Saturday, October 19th. Big crowds were on hand as the best A&D racers converged on Uxbridge to battle one last time in 2019.
Between the cadets, teens and adults, no less than 20 groups competed for racing glory. The event seemed much more like a TRAK race, with all the tents on the paddock. Also, as a special treat, CRKC racers would race in both a pre-final and final race,. Very special.
After two practice sessions and qualifying, the racers headed out for their pre-final. Chris Demaras had qualified a respectable 6th, but with overly aggressive racers trying to make their mark, positional changes were in the cards. Pole sitter Don P was the first victim, being punted off track at the treacherous turn four. The chasing pack caught Demaras in turn 7B, demoting him one spot, before Chris made strong passes to move up to 4th.
The long day took its toll on the equipment. As racers pushed too hard, short-cutting the track (and cutting the grass)) several karts had to be recovered by Goodwood staff Kyle R, Kai D and Chad W.
Chris Demaras and his ‘Group 20’ co-drivers were the final of 40 races held. Like the heavyweight championship fight saved for the end of the PPV special, the 205+ lb category did not disappoint. Dan Dileo threw an extra twist into the afternoon, by adding in the chicane to the Goodwood configuration, only for the final race. Drivers who wanted glory would have to adapt, and fast.
After the customary first lap contact dropped him to nearly the back of the field, Chris made heroic passes into turn four and the chicane, climbing up to 5th place for the final race, earning an extra 8 points for the season.
The goal heading into the weekend was a Top 20 result in the championship standings, and Demaras settled in at 17th overall on Friday Night CRKC drivers. With one pole position and two podium finishes throughout the summer, Demaras was pleased, but not satisfied.
“Was 17th place were I expected to end the season? No. You always want more. I wanted more. But competing against more than 60 talented drivers, podiums and wins aren’t easy to come by. I had some good moments this year…I just need more of them, closer together, more consistently, if I’m going to make a title run next season.”
With 10 rounds of racing raced, drops dropped and points set for the post-season, the semi-final rounds at Goodwood Kartways took place on October 12th & 13th. As expected, the turnout was massive, as racers tried for championships…or just one more win before winter.
Demaras came into the semi-final outside of the Top 20 in points, but aiming for a positive result against tough competition. A year ago, Chris was on the podium in the semi-final.
Before the race, Kasper Titus, who’d raced the No. 94 Kart to a 5th place finish in the welterweight race, came down to the heavyweight grid to wish his friend Chris good luck. A photo-bombing Damiano foreshadowed the dive-bombing that would occur on track as Chris tried desperately to maintain position in front of his rival.
A podium finish was out of Chris’ reach, and 5th place was the maximum result, but with one race to go in the season, Demaras has one more chance at racing glory.
The final regular-season race of CRKC 2019 brought cold temperatures. Could Demaras adapt?
Before the race began, Garage K12 was emptied of all karts and part, leaving only memories and some oil spills.
As for Chris’ race, there isn’t much to say. Unable to adapt to the low-grip conditions, Demaras qualified at the back. He made up one position, and was lining up a pass as the racers in front of him battled, compromising their lap times. But a spinner in Turn 4 rolled back onto the track, and Demaras did not leave enough room. Chris should have taken a wider line, leaving space for the stricken vehicle. The collision snapped the tie-rod on Chris’ kart, leaving him with no steering. A DNF and the walk of shame back to the pits.
Demaras finished the regular season 22nd place out of 64 racers, with a total (after dropped race results) of 38 points. With the increased points available for the semi-final and final round post-season, a Top-20 result is within reach.
After a summer-long dry spell, Chris Demaras earned back to back podium finishes at CRKC events at Goodwood Kartways. Demaras has attributed his improved results to “…channeling my inner Cal Naughton Jr...”
“I am just a big, hairy, American winning machine. Except, of course, I’m Canadian. Growing this handlebar mustache just showed on the outside what I’ve got going on inside. I even put it on pole today. That’s right ‘Merica. Pole!”
Thursday was a training day for Daniel with PRO team boss Curtis Fox, whose vast experience enables him to correct issues with the kart and driver. Through use of the MyChron, Fox is able to pinpoint where Daniel gains time or looses time from lap to lap. His insights are invaluable.
Camping close to Goodwood Kartways allows the Demaras family to use the resources of the track for more personal needs. For example, Daniel brought his sister’s pool toy “Turtee” to the track for inflation. As always, Big Brian treats Daniel like a member of the family, giving him access to the track’s compressor.
On Friday, the Demaras Racing team returned to their home track so Chris could complete in his first CRKC race in a month. Having missed the last round, Chris was nervous and excited to take the challenge again.
Chris raced under the lights, in the last group of the night. Running reverse track, with chicane, is always an interesting challenge. Demaras qualified third, made a few passing attempts on fellow PRO Jason Bedford, but had to settle for the bronze medal as the laps ran out. Still, it was Demaras’ first podium of the season, and a relief to be ‘back’.
Chris Demaras got to stand on every step of the podium on this night, as friend and fellow racer Dawson (who’d finished his race in 2nd place) had to leave early. The always modest Demaras offered to stand on the podium as Dawson’s proxy. Realizing he’d been handed a gold medal, Chris then stood on the top step of the podium vacated by the absent winner.
With so much excitement over this past weekend about the Demaras Racing fundraiser for R2endALZ, I didn’t have a chance to mention my latest race. Maybe I should have left it that way. After spending the day watching Daniel’s driver training session with Andrew, hearing about trail braking and other on-track techniques, I thought I’d try them out in my race too!
Do you notice that there’s nobody else on track with me in those pictures below? That’s because I spent the whole race in no-man’s land. I qualified 5th, opened up a gap to the karts behind, and watched the leaders pull away.
Last year I was on the podium multiple times, and even won a race. This year my CRKC championship run is not going well.
On Fan Friday we did lots of stuff! I saw my friend Angeline there which was a big surprise! After that, I tried this cool racing simulator. It was a VR game, so I got to put on one of those weird VR headsets for the first time. I crashed a lot, but it was still lots of fun! We even bumped into professional race car driver James Vance, who was coaching. Later, I got to sit in this really retro looking race car called Formula SAE, which was super cool!
I got to ride a dirt bike at this thing called Honda Junior Red Riders! First of all, we had to put on all of our gear. We put on shoulder pads, knee pads, gloves, boots and these really warm long sleeved shirts and pants! We got on our dirt bikes and started riding around. At the beginning, the instructors said to not pass anybody while riding around. But some kids were passing me, which was really annoying. I fell down a lot, but it was still tons of fun!
We got to watch the IndyCar practice from all the way up top of the stands! We were at turn 11, right in front of where Takuma Sato would be pitting!
At every Honda Indy Toronto ‘Fan Friday’ there is an autograph session with the drivers. We had actually already met some of the drivers before, so we brought some old photos of us with the drivers for them to autograph! They had these pre-autographed cards with the drivers on it (which we took for some of the drivers, because we don’t have pictures with all of them) but I thought getting them to sign the pictures with us in them was way cooler. I had one with Ryan Hunter Reay, and he signed it out to Michelle, which was super nice. There was also one with me, Daniel and Simon Pagenaud in it. He signed it and he even said to Daniel that he had grown so much since that picture last year! Sitting next to Pagenaud was Josef Newgarden, and he added that Daniel must’ve had a growth spurt! It was really funny.
When we got to meet Will Power we told him we were the Will Power Fan Club because we all had Team Penske #12 shirts and hats on. I think that made him happy, and he took pictures with us.
It was a really great day! It was so fun, and I hope we go back again next year! But before that I am going to another IndyCar race in August. It’s at the ‘Tricky Triangle” in Pocono. I’m super excited!
What an incredible day. Kind of tiring though. Started the day by heading out to IndyCar Friday practice at 8:30 am, then fighting afternoon traffic to make it to Goodwood by 2:00 pm for Daniel’s practice. To cap it off, I competed in Round 4 of the Friday Night CRKC race.
The great thing about arrive & drive racing is that it’s just so fun. No wrenching! You don’t have to figure out gear or air pressures. You just focus on your steering inputs and braking points. Even though I was beat from a very long day with the kids, I was feeling good. Reverse track with chicane at Goodwood always mixes up the order because some racers just aren’t used to the layout. I managed to pass a few struggling drivers in the practice sessions, and qualified 4th.
During the race, I could see my first podium finish of the season right in front of me. Second and third were within reach, and they were scrapping it out. I knew I could get one…maybe even both! But the two drivers collided, and half-spun in the downhill section of the chicane, clocking the track. To avoid crashing directly into them, I took evasive action, and pulled to the right. I got two wheels in the dirt and slowed to a crawl, watching in horror as multiple drivers passed me. I cursed in my helmet, and shook my fist at Daniel (who was filming at turn 8). I made a good recover drive, got a pass done at turn 5, then caught one last racer at the finish line. I love that picture! I had him looking right while I went left and attempted to pass on the grass.