Parker Thompson went. He saw. And he darn near conquered the North American Kart racing scene.
Instead he had to settle for second.
This past weekend Thompson, 12, made sure everyone in the open wheel racing industry knew his name with a strong showing at the KART Supernationals in Las Vegas — basically running out of track as he chased down first place.
“It feels great,” said Thompson. “There were a lot of fast drivers there. I was the only Canadian in the top 10, hopefully I did my country proud.”
He certainly did.
The Supernationals are considered the Super Bowl of the North American Kart scene and attract drivers from all over the world to the Las Vegas strip. Thompson was up against 39 others in the Cadet Division and beat the best from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. as well as some of Europe’s top drivers.
His run the past two months that included victories at premiere events in Fontana and Lancaster, Calif., has capped a break out season in which he won several circuit title an finished in the top three in a few others.
The racing world is taking notice. He now attracts major media attention at every race he enters, including being selected to by EKartingNews.com to write a drivers diary — it can still be found under their forums section.
“They picked a driver from each class, so I was honoured to do that for them,” said Thompson. “We had a lot of views and a lot of people wrote replies so that was good.”
But the attention goes beyond just the media.
His success has attracted interest from Europe, as two teams tried to recruit him to make the move across the pond.
Going over to Europe would be the equivalent of hockey players coming to Canada for the WHL.
As flattered as he was by the offer, he figures he still has much to learn over here, including jumping up to the junior division a year early.
“Europe is much more tougher to race in and getting on a good team will be excellent for my racing career,” said Thompson who drives for Buddy Rice on the Tony/Kart West racing Team in the states and Apollo Motorsports in Canada. “There’s still a lot of competition here in North America . . . The U.S. has some good drivers, so if you can beat them you’re doing good in your first year. But being it is my first year I think we want to get used to everything before we really go out and hit competition.”
The junior division will land him in a larger car and against older competition, but he is committed to being more than just an also ran or a flash in the pan.
“With the mini max that I’ve been racing in the states, you have to drive the bigger car in Canada, so I definitely have a feel for it. Now we’re just going to strap on more horse power,” said Thompson. “It’s definitely going to take more muscle and put more exertion n me. I think I can handle it. But it’s also a matter of setting the car up right, it makes a huge difference even in cadet if you don’t have the car set up properly . . . but I think I’m ready for it.”
The winter season is up next for Thompson, but first he will take a few weeks off and recharge his own batteries. The first potential race is Daytona, the first week after Christmas.