Up-and-comer growing up fast

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:38 AM ET

BOWMANVILLE — Two seasons ago Kyle Marcelli hadn’t even finished high school but he was already a veteran in corporate boardrooms across the country.

Such is the life of a young, up-and-coming race car driver in Canada these days, where talents like the 20-year-old Marcelli spend many more hours giving presentations to potential sponsors than they do behind the wheel of an actual race car.

For the vast majority of like-minded youngsters, dreams of one day being the next Paul Tracy or Jacques Villeneuve or Ron Fellows end abruptly, not because passion and talent dry up but because the money to fuel that passion and talent does.

Marcelli has been one of the lucky ones in that he has made the combination of talent and passion for motorsports work for him.

And hard work is the key to his success so far, he says, as he attempts to qualify his No. 89 Intersport Racing LMPC Oreca FLM09 Saturday for Sunday’s Mosport Grand Prix American Le Mans Series race.

“It didn’t come easy,” he said. “There was lots of years of hard work, meeting people, and of course, doing well on the track.”

Marcelli has also converted some hometown loyalty into sponsorship dollars by recruiting businesses in and around his Barrie base to support his racing career.

Companies like Lafarge, Rite Aid, Simcoe Building Center and Barrie Trim and Mouldings, among others, have stepped up to help Marcelli pursue his racing career.

“I have been going to the board rooms of these companies since I was 17 years old,” he said. “It’s all part of what I do to keep racing.”

There are more than a few racing commentators who have pencilled in Marcelli as the next big thing in motor sports to come out of Canada.

“There is no doubt that Kyle has all the talent needed to get to the top,” Allan Craighead, managing editor of eformulanews.com, said. “If he can continue to attract sponsorship and keep getting good finishes there is nothing to stop him from joining the many other great Canadian race car drivers.”

As in every sport, in racing there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. Marcelli, for example, has been driving competitively since he turned 13 and he says even at that he considers himself a late starter.

“I see kids out there now racing in organized karting series as young as six years old,” he said.

Late starter or not, Marcelli has progressed through the varying stages of racing — from karting to Formula 2000 to Formula BMW to ALMS IMSA Lights — and been a winner at every stop.

At the beginning of this season Marcelli got a big break when he was asked to join the Intersport team to co-pilot their new LMP Challenge series entry in ALMS.

“It has been a dream come true to race in the American Le Mans Series finally,” he said. “Although we’ve had our up and down moments, overall it’s been a good year.

“We have qualified second for the last four races so I’m hoping that we can break through here at Mosport for a pole.”

He is by far the youngest driver on the Intersport squad — that also fields a Lola B06 10 in the ALMS LMP series — and he is aiming for a win at his home track on Sunday.

“At the end of the day I am a firm believer that hard work and persistence pays off both on and off the race track,” he said.

When they are handing out the hardware on Sunday Marcelli expects nothing less than being on the top step of the Mosport International Raceway podium.


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