The 14 year old Niagara-on-the-Lake resident still plans on some Kart Racing but will focus on getting seat time in his new ride – a 2001 Volkswagen Beetle. The Governor Simcoe Grade 9 Student hopes that his Stock Car career starts better than Karts did at 7 years of age.
“For my Birthday – Dad got me my first kart and that first year I ran half the season,” said Austyn who won the Superior PetroFuels Junior Restricted Kart Championship in 2014 followed by a runner-up finish last season, “the second season I broke my arm away from racing ... so that ended up being only a half year too.”
Although his grandfather John Werstroh raced in the former Jalopy Division – hence the J12 on his car ... Austyn’s racing number has always been 71. His dad Jamie had run some Merrittville Enduros with that number and it has carried over to the youngest racer in the family.
When introduced last fall as the 2015 Kart Crew Chief of the Year, Race Director Jeff Riley described Jamie as one who would always be the first congratulating his son on a job well done ... coaching him on ways to improve and always teaching the disciplines of sportsmanship.
That father-son relationship has also came into play away from the track and on the ice as Jamie was a coach with Austyn’s hockey. Although now a trainer – Jamie also coached his daughter Jenna. Austyn’s number during the winter changes to 30 as he’s a Goalie for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Bantam Team.
When not in behind the wheel or in net – Austyn also enjoys dirt biking, 4 wheeling and snowmobiling from their rural home.
Looking forward to some all-important seat time at the Pete Bicknell Driving School this spring, Austyn has a little seat time in street cars and taught himself to drive standard around Fix Auto St. Catharines – formerly United Motor Collision where his dad started working in 1988.
“I’ve had him moving some cars around the yard,” said Jamie, now General Manager, “he’s caught on quickly – especially with the Beetle being standard ... I’m really looking forward to this year and having some fun ... I don’t think it will quite as stressful as Karts.”
When Austyn got his start in Karts – his racer came from former racer Bobby D’Ambrosio, (the son of Fix Auto owner John D’Ambrosio) and his first Saturday Night car was also purchased from the 276 Merritt Street company.
With the limited Kart Racing Schedule - Austyn and Jamie plan on helping out Tuesday Nights as well if needed as so many have given back to the sport before them.
“My dad’s been around to see it ... and right away he thought it was too cool of a car to be made into a race car,” added Jamie Werstroh of his Dad who had his own pretty cool looking race cars from 1958 to 1961.
Part way through last summer the Werstrohs knew that they would be making the move but it wasn’t until this past November’s Take Your Child to Work Day that the project took a huge leap forward. Austyn spent the day stripping the car and getting it ready for a roll cage fitting.
Fitting and welding the roll cage – another Karting Dad – Joe Priestley.
Many of Austyn’s Kart Sponsors are coming with him to Saturday Nights including Billy Bones BBQ, Fix Auto St. Catharines, NAPA Auto Parts (Welland Avenue in St. Catharines), RAM Construction, Lucas Oil, Carleton 5 Mechanical, Scott’s Automotive, Paul’s RV & Trailer Repair and Regional Haulage.
Not the only racer in the family, Austyn’s sister Jenna is in her first year at the University of Ottawa where she is studying Political Science on a Rowing Scholarship.
Austyn will turn 15 just days after his first season of Saturday Night Racing concludes and almost has his mom Sandra’s blessing.
“She’s a little more comfortable seeing how safe the 4 cylinder is,” added Jamie.
Our newest third generation racer definitely has a steep learning curve ahead of him in 2016. With the support of a strong group of sponsors behind him, Austyn can also rely on some coaching from family and their history in the sport and his own Kart Racing experience to help in the transition to Saturday Nights.
To follow Austyn’s progress in 2016 - like his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006746267572&fref=ts or by following https://twitter.com/jameze71?lang=en on Twitter.
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 65th Consecutive Season in 2016 – visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com. Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville
MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY SPONSORS The 2015 64th Anniversary Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series for Merrittville Speedway’s 5 Divisions was brought to race fans and racers by division sponsors – Pinty’s Delicious Foods, Rick’s Delivery, Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports, Hoosier Tire Canada and Van Raine Construction in addition to many marketing partners Visit them at . http://www.merrittvillespeedway.com/sponsors.htm and visit them when you require their products and/or services.
Lucas Oil Products is one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry featuring a premium line of oils, greases and problem-solving additives. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas Oil Products has established itself as the top selling additive in the industry.
Race fans can look for Lucas Oil Products at their favourite automotive retailer or maintenance center including Drummond Home Hardware. KC Auto Parts, RCM Racing Equipment and Tim Phillips Garage.
From: Jim Irvine/ Assistant General Manager- Merrittville Speedway
905-685-7223 Winter Office