OTTAWA RACER A MAN ON THE MOVE TORONTO, Ont. (May 14) -- The month of May is turning into a hectic one for Ottawa area motorcycle racer Andrew Nelson but by the time it's over the hard work may pay off. Beginning this weekend Nelson faces a ...
OTTAWA RACER A MAN ON THE MOVE
TORONTO, Ont. (May 14) -- The month of May is turning into a hectic one for Ottawa area motorcycle racer Andrew Nelson but by the time it's over the hard work may pay off.
Beginning this weekend Nelson faces a stretch of three races over three consecutive weeks. It starts with the second round of the RACE SuperSeries at Shannonville Motorsport Park, near Belleville. Next up is the opening round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Calabogie Motorsports Park May 22-24. And straight from there the Kars resident is off to Salt Lake City, Utah, to make his debut in the World Supersport Championship.
The World Championship opportunity is a rare one and the 24-year-old Nelson wants to make the most of it.
"You just never know when an opportunity like that is going to come along again," he says.
Nelson will compete in the event aboard the same Yamaha YZF-R6 that he will use in the Parts Canada Superbike national tour. Funding for the trip, which he estimates will cost between $10,000-$15,000, is coming primarily from within his family, although there is also backing from Bruce Gregory, one of the owners of the Calabogie race facility, and a number of local friends.
"I play in a high tech hockey league and when this opportunity came up I put the word out to see if anyone had some ideas for pushing this thing along," Nelson explains. "So the guys have been chipping in 100 bucks here and 50 bucks there and it's all been adding up to become a pretty good amount of cash."
Nevertheless, his tight-knit, Nelson Racing family-run team will be up against the elite race squads and riders of the motorcycle world.
"I don't really know what to expect," says Nelson in assessing his chances. "I don't think our bike will be very competitive, we'll be pretty far behind the eight-ball in terms of equipment. But I think I have the talent to do well. Realistically, if I get a 15th I'll be ecstatic, that will be like a race win. Even a 20th I'll be happy with."
Despite the excitement of making his World Championship debut Nelson can't lose sight of his season-long battle in the Parts Canada Superbike Championship. Nelson will race a Yamaha YZF-R1 in the feature class and his YZF-R6 in the Yoshimura Pro Sport Bike division, the major support category.
Nelson did not compete in Superbike last year but finished fifth in Pro Sport Bike points with a race win to his credit. He is looking for more this time around.
"If I'm not on the podium every weekend I'll be disappointed," he admits. "And given that, at the end of the season if I haven't won the championship I think we'll have missed an opportunity."
In the Superbike class Nelson hopes to be able to crack the podium and even pick up his first career National Superbike win, a goal he has been chasing since he was the Rookie of the Year as a 16-year-old in 2001.
A big challenge for Nelson will be that he is running as a privateer against the factory team efforts of the likes of three-time defending national Superbike champion Jordan Szoke (Canadian Kawasaki Motors), 17-year- old star Brett McCormick (Team Suzuki / Blackfoot / Picotte Motorsports) and Kevin Lacombe (Team Toyota Yamaha / OTSFF).
After such a strong 2008 season Nelson was disappointed not to pick up more support for this year and at one point considered dropping out of the sport.
"In mid-November it was looking pretty bleak," Nelson concedes. "But I got coaxed back into it, and now I see this year as an opportunity to show what I can do."
The Calabogie season opener is the closest the Parts Canada Superbike tour will come to home for Nelson. The series will move on to the new Circuit ICAR near Montreal for round two June 12-14 and then head west to Calgary's Race City Motorsport Park June 26-28.
Action resumes with a doubleheader at Mosport International Raceway, near Bowmanville, Ont. July 16-19 then moves to the east coast for a race at Atlantic Motorsport Park in Shubenacadie, N.S. Aug. 6-9. The season concludes at Shannonville on the Labour Day Weekend.
Apart from the strong family support Nelson has also picked up some backing from Algonquin College for next weekend's Calabogie race. Both Andrew and his 19-year-old brother David are students at Algonquin and Andrew is a semester away from completing a business administration degree.
Base Energy Drinks is also a sponsor of his racing program.
Nelson may have to wait to put that college degree to use, however. It appears he still has a lot of racing left on his plate. By the end of this month the opportunities could be opening up before him.
Andrew Nelson and Jordan Szoke will be guests on the 'A Morning' television show on Thursday, May 21.