WINCHESTER – Snow may still be on the ground at all the local racing ovals, but one local driver is looking forward to getting the racing season underway.
Iroquois native Luke Whitteker has become a well-known driver on ovals in Cornwall, Brockville, Quebec and upstate New York.
The DIRTcar driver had a successful 2017 racing season, capturing several victories around Eastern Ontario and Northern New York. He also won the championship at his home track, the Brockville Speedway.
“At the start of the season we were very competitive on the track, picking up our first win of 2017 at the Cornwall speedway,” Whitteker said. “Being fast out of the box, we stood near the top of the championship standings at both tracks [Cornwall and Brockville].”
Whitteker wouldn’t pick up his first victory in Brockville until July, his first-ever at the track.
The momentum of the victory gave Whitteker the confidence that made him one of the drivers to beat for the remaining races.
Whitteker topped off a strong 2017 season by winning the Ogilvie’s Series championship, a series of four races in Brockville. Whitteker won the title by winning three of four races.
He also captured the Tri-Track Challenge, the Brockville Speedway championship and the DIRTcar Fall Nationals championship. The victory at the Fall Nationals gave Whitteker the title of being the first local driver to win the coveted championship.
Whitteker also had success at the Cornwall Speedway, just falling short of the title.
“I ended up finishing second in the overall point standings at the Cornwall Speedway,” he said. “This was exceptional considering I had five DNFs [did not finish] at the track due to unforeseen mechanical failures. I can only wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t had those hardships.”
So what makes Whitteker successful behind the wheel?
“My strength as a driver is my patience behind the wheel and my drive to be the best I can be every week,” he said. “I spend every day of the week working on my race car and studying vehicle dynamics.”
As a young driver, Whitteker looks up to racing innovators like Bruce McLaren, who was a driver and racecar designer. Niki Lauda and Smokey Yunick are another two people in the racing world who Whitteker admires.
Being not only a driver, but also someone who studies and works on his car, Whitteker’s time as a mechanical engineering student at Carleton University furthered his knowledge in the field.
“Taking mechanical engineering at Carleton complimented my passion for motor racing and gave me the academic skills to understand vehicle dynamics theories and manipulate vehicle dynamics to improve my car,” he said. “I was part of the Carleton University Ravens’ racing team where I designed and produced my own custom shocks for the Formula SAE car.”
Heading into 2018, Whitteker is looking to improve on what was a successful season last year.
“[This year], I want to continue to improve my understanding of vehicle dynamics, car setup and my driving skills,” he said. “I want to improve on my results from last season and prove my position on the track.”
Whitteker is also looking for business sponsorships for the upcoming racing season. Those interested in helping can contact Whitteker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-362-4513.