Too young to drive, old enough to win

That's 15-year-old Alec Udell of Houston, Tex., racing to a third-place finish during practice...

That's 15-year-old Alec Udell of Houston, Tex., racing to a third-place finish during practice sessions for Saturday's Pirelli World Challenge Series at Mosport. (Photo: Gary Grant)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:00 PM ET

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. — Alec Udell is embarrassed as he gets out of his 400 horsepower No. 06 Momentum Autosports Chevrolet Camaro after his first practice run for Saturday’s fourth round of the Pirelli World Challenge at Mosport International Raceway.

He certainly is not embarrassed by his performance. Udell in fact had posted the third fastest time — one minute 29.571 seconds — in the WC GTS class around Mosport’s 4-kilometre, 10-turn road course.

What he was embarrassed about was that instead of jumping behind the wheel of a waiting golf cart to drive back to his team’s paddock, Udell had to sit in the passenger seat while someone else drove.

“I don’t have a driver’s licence so I can’t even drive a golf cart along pit road,” Udell said.

You see Udell is only 15-years-old and has six months and nine days before he turns 16 on Nov. 29 and is able to take a test to get a valid licence that would allow him to drive a car off the race track as well as on one.

“I started driving go karts when I was five,” the Houston, Tex., native said. “So I have actually been driving for 10 years.”

That means squat to the folks who patrol the highways and byways of North America, however.

In fact Udell was not even allowed to get in the car at Mosport until his parents signed a waiver releasing the track from any liability should the youngster have some sort of mishap while driving the No. 06 Camaro SS this weekend.

Not that it would be a major probability.

While the Camaro is the most powerful car he has ever driven, it is hardly Udell’s first time driving a sports car.

“I drove a Miata in the Mazda Miata series,” he said. “But I must admit I was impressed going from 110 horsepower in that car to 400 horsepower in the Camaro.”

As much as it might seem improbable that a 15-year-old kid might even have a chance at a top finish Saturday and Sunday against drivers with decades more experience, Udell has to be considered among the favourites. Part of it has to do with how quickly he adapted to Mosport’s challenging course.

“The first day I got here I walked the whole track,” he said. “Right away I knew I was going to love this track.”

So what is the next step for Udell?

He said he wants to move up to the monster horsepower LMP class in the American Le Mans Series and maybe even try his hand at NASCAR.

“When I was a kid I was a really big Jeff Gordon fan,” the wise old Udell admitted. “It would be really neat to race him.”

Castroneves tops at Indy

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves topped the final practice prior to Saturday’s Pole Day qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

Castroneves lapped the 2.5 mile IMS quad oval at 228.661 m.p.h. just nipping Montreal’s Alex Tagliani, who was second fastest at 228.327 m.p.h.

The two other Canadians vying to qualify for next week’s Indy 500 — James Hinchcliffe and Paul Tracy — were 16th and 22nd respectively at 226.847 m.p.h and 225.996 m.p.h. on the leader board.

Last year’s winner, Dario Franchitti, was 11th fastest at 227.432 m.p.h.

Finish lines

Kimi Raikkonen started his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday night (for race results go to http://www.torontosun.com/sports/) and the 2007 Formula One world champion is already talking about moving up to the Sprint Cup series before this season ends. But if he fails miserably in the Trucks Kimi will wave NASCAR good-bye. “If I completely suck here, there’s probably no reason to come back,” he said. ... IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro, who suffered burns to both her hands in a fiery crash during Thursday’s practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is expected to get clearance to attempt to qualify Saturday after being evaluated by IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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