How does it all start? A childhood trip to the racetrack? Something you saw at the auto-show that caught your eye? What gets a kid started in racing?
If the Demaras Auto Racing Team was born somewhere, it would have to be the now-closed Nascar Speedpark in Vaughan, Ontario. There were no less than five tracks at the Speedpark including SlideWays, The Family 500 and for the rookie racer, The Qualifier. These were electric karts limited to 10 km/h, but to 5 year old Daniel Demaras, it was like strapping himself in for Indy 500 qualifying.
Raised at the Racetrack
Michelle has always been a motorsports enthusiast. Raised in a family that loves racing meant Michelle watched her first race from her stroller!
Despite her father and brother being stuck-up Formula 1 aficionados, Michelle preferred oval tracks like Sunset Speedway where she could follow all the action.
Despite being a Canadian boy, with Greek and Danish heritage, Daniel always knew his colours were red, white and green. After years of watching Schumacher and Raikkonen winning Formula 1 World Championships for Ferrari, Daniel thought the Italian national anthem was the Ferrari ‘theme song’
From an early age, Daniel Demaras showed a strong interest in motorsports, and was the only boy to wear an fire-proof Nomex racing jacket on this kindergarten trip to the apple orchard.
Family Fun at Shanty Bay
Even before she could reach the pedals, Michelle was strapped into a kart, speeding around Shanty Bay Go-Karts near Barrie, ON.
Polson Pier Go Karts
Another long-lost track, the high banked oval at Polson Pier, also known as The Docks in downtown Toronto. This insane track lasted only one summer before it was shut down for safety reasons. A poured concrete oval, with high banking, in the middle of a parking lot downtown. The track was wide enough that when you looked away and waved to mom, you could easily drive headfirst into the steel barrier.
When Michelle felt the need for speed, she was lucky enough to have a local track like K1 Speed in Toronto.
Blue Mountain Go Karts
Blue Mountain Go Karts in Collingwood, ON provided a safe racing environment for Daniel. The karts weren’t quick, but the track was suitably twisty, and a lot of fun.
Red Karts at Goodwood
Some of Michelle’s first laps were under the watchful eye of Big Brian Bettencourt at Goodwood Kartways. The speed and sound of the Vortex engines was a little frightening, but the Red Karts gave Michelle a chance to take a test drive on the big circuit at a safer speed.She adopted “No. 29” from her kart that day (and her street address) as her official number.
Shanty Bay Go Karts
When the Toronto-area go-kart tracks just didn’t provide the thrill Daniel was looking for, a trip north to Barrie, Ontario was the solution. Shanty Bay Go Karts had a unique oval track for smaller kids.
While Michelle doesn’t race as much as Chris and Daniel, she really loves oval racing. Watching the InduCars at Pocono was an incredible thirll.
Junior Red Riders
Thanks to the Honda Junior Red Riders program, Daniel was able to try two wheels instead of four…well outside his comfort zone.
Junior Red Riders again
Michelle has always been extremely competitive. If there’s something her brother did growing up, she was going to do it too…a year younger. While Michelle enjoys the Honda Indy Toronto weekend, she’s not a fan of street circuits. But the Junior Red Riders program got her to the track three days in a row!