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Apr 17, 2007 / news


Words by Mark Russell. Photo by Mark Davidson /

Karl Thomson claimed top spot in the 2007 Ontario Indoor Karting Championship, a six-race series which runs from November to April in Toronto, Canada. It's the second year in a row that Thomson's won the series, which celebrates its tenth year anniversary next season.

The Formula Kartways guys threw us a special treat at our final event of the season and provided "racing in the dark" for the second race of the night. For anyone who missed this event, you missed a really exciting race.  All the lights in the place were turned off and the karts raced with only LED headlights designed for use on a bicycle. It was awesome! And a totally new experience for all involved.

This month David Tennyson left the kart prep to his able crew at Formula Kartways and they came through with another field of well-prepared and even karts. During practice we noted there were six karts within 2/10ths of a second of each other, eight karts within 5/10ths of a second, and the remaining karts within another 5/10ths. That's a pretty even field. In our field of race karts we noted there were seven karts within 4/10ths of a second of each other, and only one kart that could really be described as slow enough to be a handicap. That's as a good a record as the FK crew achieved at our previous two events when they really started taking kart equality to a new level.

The big news at this event outside of our actual racing and championship action was the running of race 2 in total darkness. We had heard some discussion that FK was developing this as an added attraction for their serious race leagues, but we had heard they would require a laborious "driver certification" process in order to be allowed to drive in the dark. At this event Mike Salmon surprised us all with the announcement just before race 2 that we would be running in the dark with headlights on the karts. After a short briefing on rules and procedures we were off into the darkness.

The actual racing in the dark turned out to be fun, and a little more difficult than it would seem. Our pace fell off by at least a second a lap, with only a small handful of drivers approaching their pace under full light (and no one equaling or exceeding it). In fact, leading with no one in front of you is extremely difficult in the dark with most drivers reporting they were missing apexes by 5 feet and more! This really added a new dimension to our series and closely approximates the challenge drivers face in a real 24 hour endurance race.

Our dark race didn't turn up the calamity we all thought was possible as it seems our group of drivers are pretty level-headed, and possess a very high skill-level wink. We've all agreed we will want to do this again next year, most likely during the second half of the season when the driver field is thinned down somewhat to our most capable drivers, as we had at this event.
Race action reporting will be slim this month since we decided to go with two-man teams in order to have a larger field (hard to take notes on the race when you're constantly getting ready to drive). With only 19 drivers for our last event of the season we went with 9 two-man teams (although the pole-sitter got a three-man team). Based on average qualifying time the 9 teams were all within a half-second of each other, meaning our races would be pretty close given we had even drivers in even karts.

Race 1 was won by the Comat/Vaillancourt team, with Tyler Comat making a big come-back to our series after missing three events. There was some decently close racing throughout the field during race 1, with the Carroll/Roell team finishing second and the Thomson/Pohlmann team finishing third after a number of position changes between these two teams during the last stint.

Race 2 as mentioned was run in total darkness with headlights. The first stint had very close racing in the dark, but no calamity. Duncan Johnson got off into the lead for the first three laps, but reported great difficulty in spotting turn-in points and apexes in the dark. The field behind him had the benefit of Duncan's lights and line to help, so the entire field maintained their position close behind.

Karl Thomson managed to get by on the fourth lap and set off to build a slight lead.  The rest of the field stayed close to Johnson. In following stints the field remained fairly tightly bunched, but a few teams made progress, particularly with fast pitstops. The Russell/MacDonald team got into the lead in the 3rd stint and maintained throughout, but with the Comat/Vaillancourt team and the Thomson/Pohlmann team right there to keep them honest. At the end it was the Russell/MacDonald team with the win, followed by the Thomson/Pohlmann team in second and the Comat/Vaillancourt team in third.

Top points-man for the night was Tyler Comat with 58 points, followed by Karl Thomson with 57, and Mark Russell with 56 . Now that's close racing!

There was a good bit of movement in our seasonal standings after this event, with the exception of the fact that Karl Thomson maintained his grip on the lead and emerged our series champion. Going in, our top 5 were Thomson, Scanlon, Clifton, Russell and Vaillancourt. The final seasonal result is Thomson, Russell, Clifton, Vaillancourt, Scanlon.  You can see that David Scanlon had a particularly bad final event and paid the price by dropping from second to fifth in the points. David is our "Rookie of the Year" and it's great that each year we see a rookie to our series in the top 5 (although David is as much a "rookie" this year as Juan Montoya is in his new series).

The next six drivers going into this event were separated by only three points in the standings. Naturally there was some movement among these drivers as well, with Glenn MacDonald coming out on top and securing 6th place in the standings.  here were two more series rookies in this group, with Martin Gray and Brian Makse securing 8th and 9th position respectively.
An interesting study in the data tables is standings based on qualifying points only versus the standings based on racing points only. Based on qualifying, Mark Russell and David Scanlon were the top performing drivers although they only finished 2nd and 5th respectively in the championship.  Karl Thomson, our series champion finished 5th based on qualifying. Really interesting is to look at Colin Hillcoat, who finished 16th based on qualifying (he's got the Coulthard Curse), yet based on race points he finished tied for 7th with Mark Russell.

So another excellent season draws to a close with several new faces at the top of our points chart. I hope to see the entire group back in the fall for another season of rubbin' and racin'.  Please keep our series in-mind if you have a friend you think could keep up with us. We're hoping to recruit a few more FK regulars to our series like David Scanlon and Gregg Clifton since it's drivers like this (very fast, plus great sportsmen) who raise the bar and make our series more competitive and more fun.  See you next November. Cheers!

— Mark Russell