By Jim Clarke, Kawartha Speedway PR/Clarke Motorsports Communications
Take a few moments to wander through the pit area at your favourite weekly racetrack and one thing is very evident. The racers look younger year after year. Drivers have more opportunities to develop their skills, gain experience and sharpen their talents in go karts and the track’s entry level divisions before taking a turn at the headline class. Kawartha Speedway isn’t much different…except for one possible exception. 50 year-old Uxbridge, Ontario racer Bryan Watts says he’s looking to show everyone at the 3/8th mile Fraserville oval that ‘old guys rule’. The Vice President of OE Quality Friction, makers of VORTEX Brake Pads could’ve started slowly like everyone else, but instead chose to get his feet wet running with the NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Models.
“I really didn’t have any prior racing experience, unless you count the daily commute on the ‘407’,” said Watts with a chuckle. “I did a few shows in 2010, but the 2011 campaign at Kawartha was the first time I’ve run a full season anywhere. At the start of the year, my goals were simple. I was looking to get as much seat time as possible and wanted to learn how to be a competent racer and good competitor. Looking ahead to 2012, I think its best to stick with that plan…and if things go well, try to pass the 10 cars that finished ahead of me in points this year.”
Not just a driver, but also a corporate and team sponsor Bryan Watts has come-up ‘speed’ very quickly where the business side of the sport is concerned. He says he’s amazed by the passion and willingness of people who make the sacrifices in their personal lives and volunteer their time to get their equipment to the track. His #61 McColl Racing, VORTEX Brake Pads/Fast Eddie Racewear/Choko Motorsports/D & L Associates/Kurtz Trucking Chevrolet is maintained in the shop and at the track by Jason Hathaway, Owen Wells, Josh Arnold, Phil Arnold, Mike McLennan and Dave Hathaway. Even wife Ronann Watts helps turn a wrench from time-to-time. Watts has been able to contribute to the sport by developing Canadian made brake components – with the feedback his company gets from local racers – and supports as many programs as possible.
“At this level, most of the teams involved do so as a hobby and on a limited budget,” said Watts. “We’ve learn so much through our association with EHR and their NASCAR Canadian Tire Series team. If we can help with a donation of product as part of a contingency program, I’m all for it. A team puts a decal or two on their car and the driver wears a VORTEX Brake Pad hat in victory lane when their pictures are taken. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. I’m looking forward to the day when it’ll be my smiling face in the winner’s circle.”
Even though he’s relatively new to the game, Watts says he’d like to see a way for the tracks to find a unified set of rules that would allow drivers to run a variety of different tracks on a regular basis. He can recognise the benefit for the racetrack to draw a different crowd when it comes to on-track competition – as well as the chance for drivers to gain experience running against some different drivers. Car counts are hard to get and more common rules would make it easier for drivers to pick-up a few extra races here and there without a lot of work and money. Watts says he wishes he’d been exposed to the sport of stockcar racing at an earlier age.
“I look at some of the other drivers involved and wish I could have their track time and perspective,” Watts admits. “My wife Ronann was around tracks and even worked as a crew member before we met. She raced with Lambert and Corey Yake at Sunset Speedway and has been a long time stockcar racing fan. If I’d been smarter and started hanging around the racetracks back then, who knows when we might have met?”
To learn more about OE Quality Friction and VORTEX Brake Pads, visit www.vortexbrakes.com.
Be sure to visit www.kawarthaspeedway.com for details on the on-line voting for most improved and most sportsmanlike drivers in each of the three regular divisions. Winners will be announced at the annual awards banquet Saturday, January 14. The 2012 season kicks-off Sunday, February 5h with the third edition of the Long John 200 Endurance event. Kawartha Speedway will also be part of the Canadian Motorsports Expo – presented by Inside Track Motorsport News – February 10, 11 and 12 at the International Centre in Toronto. See www.canadianmotorsportsexpo.com for the full schedule.
Track management and officials would like to thank everyone – all drivers, crew members, families, friends and fans – for an exciting year in 2011and extend their best wishes for a happy and safe festive season.
Photo attachment: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications
Bryan Watts battles with Mike Wallace during NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model action at Kawartha Speedway.