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11-year-old Nathan Dupuis has a chance at winning Junior TRAK VLR karting championship


Photo by Cody Schindel - Canadian Karting News.

by Sylene Argent

With nothing to do when the pandemic broke out in 2020, Harrow native, Nathan Dupuis, started racing at Point Pelee Karting Club as a way to explore a new outdoor activity.

  What started out as a way to have some fun during lockdowns, quickly evolved into a major passion. Dupuis, now 11-years-old, is not only enjoying the sport, but is excelling. He is hoping to capture a major championship this weekend during his third season of competition.

  He got the idea initially as a friend had a kart and was racing, and got involved when his parents gave him the green light.

  “Because schools and everything were closed, and all you could do were things outdoors, he and his dad [Todd] would go to the track everyday,” Dupuis’s mom, Melissa, explained. “That helped him get more comfortable with the track, learn the track, get more comfortable with the kart.”

  “At first, when I got into the kart, I felt a little nervous,” Dupuis admitted, but after getting some instruction and time behind the wheel, the young racer has started a journey that has continued to accelerate.

  Dupuis puts in the hard work to improve. He is at the track as early as he can be and puts in a couple hundred laps over two-days before a race.   

  Dupuis noted he continues to work at his technique to try to go faster, like practicing starts, where he thought there could be improvement.

 

Photo by Cody Schindel - Canadian Karting News.

In his first race, in 2020, he competed in a Cadet class, but went to a different track in Toronto and was told he was too big to compete at that level. From there, he moved up to race in Junior Light. He earned a ninth-place finish, to return to Point Pelee Karting Club to earn a second-place finish at his next race.

  Earlier this summer, Dupuis won his first National championship in karting at Shannonville Motorsports Park. He was successful in winning the Briggs Junior 4 stroke championship. 

Photo submitted

  Recently, Dupuis was successful in winning his second championship, which was the Kart Stars National Championship. In this series, he won the VLR 2 stroke division. This particular series is a five-race series at five different tracks in the Toronto area.

  This is Dupuis’s first year racing VLR in Ontario, but only his third season racing 4 stroke karts. 

  This weekend, Dupuis has a chance at winning the championship in the Junior TRAK VLR series, which is a 15-race series in Uxbridge Ontario.

  Melissa explained her son should be racing in the Cadet level, but is racing at the Junior level. For the past year, he has been racing one or two classes above where he should be.

  In the Junior category, he is racing against 15 to 17-year-old youths, some of which have their driver’s licence and are driving cars on the road, Melissa said, noting in the Briggs, her son can get up to speeds over 100km/hour. The fastest speed he hit in his VLR was 115km/hour, Dupuis noted.

  Earlier this summer, there was a tornado at the track at Uxbridge, while Dupuis and his family were there.

  “Nathan was on grid, getting to go out in his kart when the tornado hit,” Melissa explained. His father’s quick-thinking got him out of the kart and to a safer location. She said the tornado swept across the grid, where everyone was parked, waiting to go on track.

  Going into the last race, Dupuis said he is focused. He does not plan to talk to friends at the track when he arrives, as he usually would, to concentrate and mentally prepare for the race ahead.

  Melissa said her son is very disciplined and dedicated, practicing for days ahead of each race.   

  Dupuis admitted when he began racing, he had no idea things would evolve the way they did and noted he has become obsessed with the sport.

The racing season goes from April to October. He was asked by his team to race in Vegas in November at the SKUSA super match. He will then head down to Florida to race from January to the last week of March to compete in a myriad of series.

  “Every weekend he will be at a different track, racing a different motor,” Melissa explained. “It’s exciting. There’s lots to learn. [There] is heavy competition. It is also excellent practice and he learns so much from it. Driver development, that is what it is all about.”

  Melissa has been told her son has good hands as a driver, he also has great awareness of the track and asks for advice from others. All of this contributes to his success. He is also able to adapt. She recalled one race during his first year, where a tie rod bent after getting caught up with another competitor during a race. Even though that affected his ability to turn, he was able to adapt his racing style to the kart and still won the race.  

“Before racing, and before COVID, if it wasn’t for racing, I don’t know what I would be doing right now,” Dupuis said. “I would probably just be sitting on the couch playing video games.”

  He suggests other kids his age get out and try things to see what they like.

  When he gets older, he hopes to become a professional race car driver.


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