Indy undercard racer Parker Thompson wins second in a row

Red Deer native looks to keep up winning ways

Local product Parker Thompson, 18, is quickly becoming one of Canada’s best motorsports athletes and is climbing the ranks of formula racing, en route to his ultimate dream of racing Indy cars. He recently won his second race in a row at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Thompson was coming off a win at the Streets of Toronto race prior to the race in Ohio. Both races have been the culmination of a budding new team’s effort.

“Last year I was with the championship winning team – Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2016, and then this year was looking pretty dark in the off season after losing the championship to a flat tire with one race to go,” he said.

“I didn’t know I was going to be racing this year, so I signed with Exclusive Autosport very late.

“They have never raced in this category before and they are an all-Canadian team. It is pretty cool an all-Canadian team picked me up when I honestly thought that I would be done racing and that I didn’t have a shot moving forward.”

Starting a new team has been a learning experience for Thompson and his crew.

“That is what we have done this year with Exclusive Autosport,” he said. “We have had some good finishes but at the same time, it has been a lot of learning and a lot of making ourselves better for the next event.

“Toronto was our turnaround and it feels awesome to start from bottom and build it up from the bottom. Ultimately finding a way to get a couple wins is really rewarding.”

Parker now finds himself in optimum position to close out his USF 2000 season with the last event coming at the Watkins Glen International race in New York state.

“We are going to do the exact same thing we did in Toronto,” he said. “I think we have our preparation nailed down perfect and our team mojo is on a new level. That is awesome to see. Everyone is revitalized and it is amazing what wins can do for an organization.”

Thompson’s passion for motor sports came at a very young age.

“I grew a passion for all things loud and fast watching my dad race jet boats,” he said.

“My dad raced in Peace River, Whitecourt and all across Alberta and then he raced at the World Championships in the U.S. and Mexico. That is what I did from ages one to five.

“I knew right away that I wanted to be involved with something that had a loud engine and went fast.”

He first got behind the wheel of a dirt bike when he was seven, however his mom felt that it was too dangerous so his dad helped him transition to go-cart racing.

“Dad got me a cart for my birthday and we started go-cart racing,” he said. “We started out of Calgary with Overdrive Motorsports. We had humble beginnings. We started out of my dad’s pickup and it was a way for us to spend time together and it also gave me a fix for my need for speed. It quickly grew from a hobby to a career.”

Thompson quickly gained some notoriety in go-cart circuits

“By age 10, I was drafted by Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and I was competing in carting across the U.S. and Canada,” he said.

“When I was 12, I represented Canada in Dubai and Portugal and it was in Portugal that I was the first North American to ever be ranked third in the world for carting. That catapulted my career into cars.

“Along the way, I lived in Italy for a year when I was 14. I worked on contract with a factory team, which is every driver’s dream especially in Italy where racing is true and true.”

Thompson credits hard work to his development, but also realizes that many things worked out for him.

“My career has been all about stars aligning,” he said. “If one piece of the puzzle doesn’t happen, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened. I am fortunate and blessed to be in the position I am in. Everything has happened and ended up with some cool opportunities.”

At still only 18, the sky is the limit for Thompson — with his ultimate goal to be paid for his craft.

“Any amateur up and coming drivers’ first objective is to get the pay cheque,” he said.

“I would love to make it to Indy Car or sports cars to be a professional racing driver. I’m not there yet but I am working my way up the ranks and every year I am getting closer.That is the next thrill.

“It sounds cheesy but at the end of the day if I can make a career or a living out of driving a race car, that is the ultimate dream.”

Support from home has been vital to Thompson’s career.

“To put it frankly, I wouldn’t be here in the series I am racing at if it wasn’t for individuals and companies from Central Alberta and Alberta,” he said. “Most of my career has been funded by Alberta, so I am extremely grateful.

“That sheds a light on all Canadians. We are so good at supporting our own and sticking up for our own. It humbles me that Canada and Alberta have gotten behind me and that pushes me to do what I do.”

He added local companies like Open Highway All Service Insurance have been huge supporters of his career and his campaign against distracted driving – Drive to Stay Alive.

“I have a passion to stop distracted driving,” he said. “I hate to see teens’ lives get taken or altered by such a simple mistake. It makes sense for me to try to better my community. I want to keep our teens and everyone on the road safe.

“I put on high school presentations and in 2016-17, I visited over 100 high schools across Canada to talk about the dangers of distracted driving.”

He added about the future of his career that, “It doesn’t matter what type of race car you put me in, if I can get paid to drive it — that will be the day that I say I have made it.”

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com