THE AVANTISPORT CHRONICLES- with Ivan Casey
February 24, 2014 by Ivan Casey
So I’ve been threatening to start a blog for some time now but I’ve been too busy enjoying my motorsport. Tonight was different because I took my work home with me. Prepping bodywork isn’t fun at the best of times, but prepping bodywork on the kitchen table at 10.30pm on a Thursday is absolutely no fun; hence starting the blog which I intend to keep going every month.
My own “involvement” with racing goes back to the very early 80’s when my ex-karter dad brought me along to Mondello pretty much every weekend. Most of my time was spent riding an old 50cc Moto Minarelli motocrosser around the fields where the International loop now lives. Occasionally I’d venture into the pits to see if I could blag my way into sitting in a kart or car. Having one of the Deery brothers (who won everything back then) push me down to assembly area in their kart would make my whole weekend. Nowadays, when I see a kid looking in the cockpit of one of our cars, I always tell them to sit in and have their parents take a few photos because I remember what it meant to me as a kid.
Skip forward to the 1998 when I dropped in to Mondello one Saturday afternoon to see what was happening. I hadn’t been to the track in a few years because of school, college, other sports and trying the girl thing. I managed to talk my way out on track in one of the old school Ritmos and a dirty little Formula Vee. I was immediately hooked and bought my first Vee the following Thursday. I picked up my race licence from Dawson Street on the Friday and arrived at a wet Mondello Park the following day without any tools, knowledge or talent. After doing my bit of testing, I went for a rake of pints and invited pretty much every girl in the pub to come watch a racing driver the following day. I wasn’t impressed to find myself qualify third last in a grid of about 60 Vees. There’s a rumour that two
lads didn’t complete a lap of qualifying due to mechanical issues but I’ve never actually found out if this was true or not. Thinking I was in Formula 1 and I knew what I was at, I changed a lot of things on the car and very quickly turned a good car into a bad car. Luckily, no girls turned up to watch!
I’d learned my first lesson in motorsport; “if racing was easy, everyone would be doing it”!
Skip forward another 10 years when I realised that I preferred working on the cars rather than racing them (being able to have a few pints on a race weekend helped with this realisation). In 2009, I formed a great partnership with my old pal and former teammate, Stephen Kershaw. We ran my Leastone with decent success, winning the Kirkistown championship and leading the National championship into the last race weekend before a few unplanned incidents finished our championship hopes in a gravel trap. The seed was firmly sown that I wanted to run my own team.
AvantiSport Racing started life in 2011, running my old Leastone for the LucanLaw pairing of Kevin Grogan and his dad Brian, who were making the transition from karting. We’ve had our ups and downs with results over
the last three seasons but Kev is now a genuine frontrunner in the class with multiple podiums and a win at the final race of 2013 in Kirkistown. The plan for 2014 is to start off with another win and continue throughout the season.
Being involved with Vees for so long, I love to see new drivers come into the class. In 2012 and 2013, we ran Formula Vee rookies Larry O Keeffe and Gary Owens and we have almost completed a deal to run another Formula Vee rookie in 2014. Watch this space.
The 2014 season will also see us get our own AvantiSport car to the grid. Ever since my early days in Formula Vee, I’ve had a hankering to build my own car. We’ve done a lot of work with an ex-Williams F1 guru who has worked with the likes of Alan Jones, Damon Hill and Ayrton Senna. There’s still a considerable amount of work to be done to get the car on the grid for the first championship round in April, but we’ll burn the midnight oil to make sure we are there. Stephen Kershaw returns to the cockpit with the new car so I’m hoping himself and Grogan will be battling it out at the front all season. The realist in me tells me that we’ll be lucky to get the new car on the podium at some stage in 2014.
So that’s where we started and this is where we’re at now. Hopefully we’ll have some good AvantiSport Racing updates in the next month or so. See ya then.