Mention the name ‘Junior’ to a stockcar racing fan and depending on their age, they’ll think you’re referring to either hall of fame driver and car owner Robert ‘Junior’ Johnson or second generation superstar Dale Earnhardt Junior, winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup most popular driver award for 9 consecutive seasons. Although he’s yet to achieve the same level of success as any of the drivers who share his name, Ken Donaldson Junior could be well on his way.
In his first year of competition in Kawartha Speedway’s Better Carpet Thunder Car division, Ken Donaldson Junior made all the right moves. During the track’s 10 race season, he found the way to victory lane in 5 main events and scored 3 runner-up showings along the way. In the remaining shows, his worst finish was 4th. Solid efforts throughout the year earned the 31 year-old both the class championship and rookie of the year honours. The hard-charging performer with an aggressive driving style and brash attitude turned heads throughout the season at the Fraserville, Ontario 3/8th miler.
“In some ways, I didn’t really know what I was doing,” admitted Donaldson thinking back to 2011’s opening night. “I’d driven a mini stock for a year and participated in the first Long John 200 endurance event at Kawartha, but running the thunder car on a regular basis was a totally new experience. You learn very quickly when you’re in a pack with 15 or 20 different guys. Although I’d watched Kyle there for a couple of years, I needed to figure out who the other drivers were and how they’d battle on the track. Grabbing the win in my first feature was fun, but there was no way anyone could have predicted how the rest of the year would turn out.”
Originally from Queensville – but now calling Richmond Hill, Ontario home – Ken Donaldson Junior’s title winning racer carries the #03 in honour of the number his father first campaigned during his racing career. The car was built in the family’s shops and is backed by Custom Steering and Downtown Flooring. Truly a family operation, maintenance in the garage and at the track is handled by the driver’s parents, with help from the same crew members who look after his brother’s late model. Both cars arrive at the track at the same time and park side-by-side along the backstretch pit wall.
“Kyle and I have been very lucky to have such a strong group of family and friends to support what we do,” said the driver. “Mom and dad keep the program running for both of us, but there are people pitching-in behind the scenes who seldom get the recognition they deserve. Even my girlfriend Jessie is becoming more involved in the day-to-day operations of the race teams.”
Like his brother, Ken Donaldson Junior loves the thrill of winning and finds it difficult to settle for anything less than being the first car across the line. The pair also wishes the racing seasons could be longer. Away from the track, he enjoys riding dirt bikes, canoeing and classic cars.
“With the 2012 season less than 2 months away, we’re getting everything ready with a plan of picking-up another track championship. It should be a fun year.”
Kawartha klips: Kawartha Speedway’s 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