TEEN RACER ON LEARNING CURVE SHANNONVILLE, Ont. (August 27) -- As the Labor Day Weekend approaches, most teenagers are thinking nervously about the upcoming school year. But for 17- year-old motorcycle racer Brett McCormick, the focus will be ...
TEEN RACER ON LEARNING CURVE
SHANNONVILLE, Ont. (August 27) -- As the Labor Day Weekend approaches, most teenagers are thinking nervously about the upcoming school year. But for 17- year-old motorcycle racer Brett McCormick, the focus will be squarely on the track.
The Saskatoon native will be among the favorites for victory in the final round of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship at Shannonville Motorsport Park. Practice for this country's top road racers opens Friday with qualifying on Saturday and racing set for Sunday afternoon.
Riding for the Canadian Kawasaki Motors factory team, McCormick is coming off his best weekend of the season in the previous event at Nova Scotia's Atlantic Motorsport Park, where he qualified on pole position for the Superbike class and finished second in one of the feature races on the doubleheader weekend.
The second year Pro also picked up a fourth in the other Superbike race, and took a second and third in the Yoshimura Pro 600 Sport Bike races.
"Finally I had a weekend without any bad luck, where things went relatively smoothly for me," McCormick says. "I was feeling healthy and it was definitely my best weekend of the year."
The AMP round was certainly a high point in what has been a character building year for the teen, who just turned 17 on Aug. 20. After a sensational rookie campaign in 2007, which culminated in a second place finish in the Parts Canada Superbike race at Shannonville, injuries and bad luck have made things tough on last year's runaway winner of the HJC Pro Rookie of the Year Award.
"It's been a pretty big learning year," McCormick admits. "I was expecting to do a little better. But I've learned there's a lot to the racing scene. I had things pretty easy last year, but in racing anything can happen."
The injury bug hit even before the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike season opened at Ottawa's Calabogie Motorsport Park in late May. In spring testing McCormick discovered he had picked up a shoulder injury while training in the off-season.
At Calabogie he sustained a hyperextended knee in a crash. Then at Mosport International Raceway in July he fell on the opening lap of the Pro 600 Sport Bike race, while in the lead, bruising a lung and some ribs.
"The knee was a pretty big issue for me," McCormick says. "I stretched some tendons and ligaments and I wasn't able to train. And Mosport didn't help the situation. Last Monday was the first time I've been able to run since before the Calabogie race. I've really been chasing my tail all year."
McCormick comes to Shannonville ninth in the Superbike point standings, but with an excellent chance of moving up to sixth, and he is sixth in the Pro 600 Sport Bike rankings, although a climb into the top three is not out of the question.
"My ribs aren't bothering any more," he says in looking ahead to this weekend. "And I really like Shannonville; I like the 'Pro Track' layout we use there. I'm really looking forward to this weekend."
In addition to his on-track education, McCormick is working on completing his Grade 12 studies. The short Canadian racing season hasn't made things too difficult for him, although he is enrolled in an online program run by Saskatoon's public school system. The curriculum is the same as what he would get in the classroom, but instead of going to school he has an online teacher and submits assignments by email.
"Doing just the Canadian series, which is five weekends, it's not too hectic and I've been able to keep my grades up," he says. "But it [the online system] is good for me when I'm on the road.
"I don't mind the English and History. I've finished my Grade 12 Biology courses, but I really enjoyed those. I used to be a big Math student, but not so much anymore. It's getting a little old. Physics is nice. A lot of it applies to everyday life, and you can't always say that about your courses."
McCormick hopes to be on the road a bit more next year, when he wouldn't mind adding some U.S. racing to his Canadian schedule. He made his debut in the AMA Superbike Championship, America's top series, at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park last April. He finished sixth in the Superstock race there and 14th and 15th in the two Superbike events.
"That was pretty cool; it was a good experience," he says. "It was a big eye-opener. There are some pretty amazing riders down there. But I think we have a lot of talent up here too, and on the same equipment some of us Canadians could be knocking on the top five.
"We'll see how the last round plays out this weekend, but I'd like to do some more races down there. I'm still young and I've only ridden so much. For me it's more about getting track time, and getting more riding in."
For McCormick the lessons are coming fast both on and off the track. Perhaps this weekend at Shannonville fans will see the young star graduate to another level in his road racing education with his first professional Superbike win.
Round 7 of the 2008 Parts Canada Superbike Championship will be held at Shannonville Motorsport Park in Shannonville, Ont. Aug. 29-31. This is the final round for Canada's premier motorcycle road racing series, with national titles still up for grabs in four classes, including the headline Pro Superbike division.
Weekend Schedule: Practice will be held Friday, Aug. 29 with qualifying set for Saturday, Aug. 30. Feature races in all classes will go Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31.
Tickets: Visit www.shannonville.com, or call 1-800-959-8955 or (613) 966- 7223. Weekend tickets are available for $50, Sunday only for $30. Children under 12 are free.