Hotshoe wins race ride

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

A Niverville speedster has earned the right to race for Volkswagen for a second straight season.

Dave Richert was one of 30 drivers picked out of more than 3,900 hopefuls from across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to be selected to compete in the 2009 Jetta TDI Cup, the world's only Clean Diesel-powered race series.

Richert, 26, is also the only Manitoban and just one of a handful of Canucks to get the nod.

After the original field was cut to 100, they were invited to attend a four-day tryout at the Infineon Raceway in Sonomo, Calif., where Richert obviously impressed the Volkswagen judges.

"I'm incredibly excited about it," Richert said yesterday. "I did it last year so, I knew what to expect. But there were over 3,900 this year so it was a lot harder to get back.

"But this is a huge opportunity for me to advance my professional career."

Because it can cost a driver $250,000-$500,000 a year to race, getting behind the wheel for a factory pays huge dividends.

"It's a massive investment," Richert said. "My ultimate goal is to race against the best but, if I can't afford to get into a car, it doesn't matter how good I am."

Last year, Richert won a media contest where he proved he could get more media exposure than any other driver -- including one who hired a publicist -- which had a major influence on his continuing to drive for Volkswagen. That earned him a trip to Europe where he met some of the top racers and competed in two races.

Although Richert has a number of sponsors, he is always seeking more.

Richert got a late start in racing and knew little about cars while growing up on the family farm. Then, he got interested in Formula I when he was 17.

"By the time I was 20, I thought it would be more fun to drive than watch," he said. "Plus, people told me I couldn't do it because a kid from the Prairies is not expected to be able to do it."

But, just in case, Richert finished a commerce degree so he has something to fall back on if the world of wheels and burning rubber did not work out for him.

Richert lived on the family farm while attending university and is not married.

"I can't afford women right now," he claimed. "Valentine's Day is coming and it will just be my car and me."

But Richert will take that car on dates to some of the best tracks in Canada, including Toronto's famed Mosport International Raceway, with a number of stops in the U.S., including Virginia, Utah and Wisconsin.

Richert will also have a chance to race before such famous IndyCar owners as Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi.

The first race of the 2009 season will hit the starting line on April 26 at Virginia International Raceway.

Richert's best finish last year was 16th.

You can also check Richert's website at www.richertracing.com.


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