The name over the driver’s door of the #53 car in Kawartha Speedway’s headline class simply reads “Wheely”. It’s a casual reference to driver steeped in the Fraserville, Ontario oval’s racing history. During his career, Kyle Donaldson has laid claim to multiple track championships and the Queensville, Ontario runner is now turning heads in the NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model class. Despite finishing 4th in points during the 2011 campaign; the 30 year-old enters the 2012 fight looking to add a new title to his collection of hardware.
“It wasn’t a bad year,” said Donaldson when asked to evaluate his return to the late model wars. “I thought we might have been able to use the opening night feature win as a stepping stone, but it turned out to be our only main event checkered flag all season. We were a top 10 finisher every night, but pair of 7th’s and an 8th to close things out was a bitter pill to swallow. Still, we managed to roll the car into the hauler for the trip home and that’s always a positive.”
While the most common chassis in Kawartha Speedway’s late model field comes from Mike McColl’s shop in London, Ontario, the weapon of choice for Kyle Donaldson’s basic black Downtown Rug/Custom Steering 2012 Chevrolet Impala is a Lefthander, from the legendary builder in Illinois. With 11 years behind the wheel and back to back challenger championships in 2001 and 2002, a limited late model crown in 2007 and a 2009 thunder car title, Donaldson says he still loves the competition on the racetrack and looks forward to his next checkered flag.
“Running at Kawartha is great,” said Donaldson. “I just wish the season could be longer than 10 races. It seems we just get started and then the year is finished. The way things have been going the past few years – with the solid car counts and spirited action in all 3 classes – maybe that’s the way we’re headed. I’ve been doing this for more than a decade and I’ve never lost the thrill that comes with racing hard and pushing the car to its limits every night.”
Kyle Donaldson – who is part of the team at Custom Steering, the family business – says the biggest supporters throughout his career have been his parents. He also appreciates the dedicated work put in by Chris, Russell and James who make sure the car is ready for action and pitch-in behind the scenes at the shop at the racetrack. Although much of his focus is on racing, away from the track ‘Wheely’ enjoys classic cars, dirt bikes and mountain biking. He’s also developed a fondness for Kawartha’s Long John 200 endurance event and wishes there could be more than just one a year on the calendar.
“Much of what we do every year is about the numbers,” according to Donaldson. “Every driver wants to build their statistics and my total of 5 wins and 19 top fives in the late model division is nice, but the stat that matters the most isn’t even counted until the year’s final checkered flag. That’s my goal for 2012 and even though the season hasn’t even started, the way I see it there are about 25 other drivers standing in my way.”
Kawartha klips: Kawartha Speedway will host a pre-season test session for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Check the web-site for details…2012 race action gets started with an open practice Friday, May 25th, the first night for track points is Friday, June 1st. Fans can see the complete schedule and the latest off-season news anytime at www.kawarthaspeedway.com.
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications