By Tommy Goudge/OntarioOval.com – Conor Mahoney is one of the youngest drivers in a class filled with young drivers: Ohsweken Speedway’s Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car division. Conor began racing in go-karts at Cameron Motorsports before moving to Micro Sprints at Chesterman’s in Tillsonburg. He spent three seasons in the Micro Sprint – the last two in a Mike Westwood-owned car, and finished in the top three of the championship standings each season. Conor was ready to go full-size Sprint Car racing in 2011, and spent most of last season getting ready to make the jump. His team acquired a car from regular Ohsweken racer Dain Naida, and brought it to the track in September. We sat down to learn more about this teenage Sprint Car racer in this edition of “Question Session”.
Birth date: May 5, 1995
Hometown: Waterdown, Ontario
Years in racing: Starting year 6
Career: Currently in high school
Quite a few local drivers have made the jump directly from Micro Sprints to full-size Sprint Cars. What are the biggest differences and similarities between the two, from the driver’s perspective?
“The biggest difference is the power. Sprint Cars have no shortage of power, whereas Micros take a while to get up to speed. In a Micro Sprint, you steer the car a lot more with the steering wheel, but in a full-size Sprint you can control the car more with the throttle than the steering wheel. Micro Sprints do not have suspension and you feel the bumps in the track a lot harder than in a full-size Sprint Car. The biggest similarity is probably the setup. The changes that we would make to Micro Sprints are generally the same on Sprint Cars.”
What was going through your mind just before the green flag dropped on your first hot lap session on the big track at Ohsweken?
“’Hold on and don’t crash!’ It was wild but tons of fun.”
How many times have you gotten the question “Are you related to Dick and Warren?”
“About 6 or 7 times. We are not related.”
There are many different divisions and tracks in Ontario. What led you down this path?
“Racing Micro Sprints, I think everyone wants to eventually move up into the full-size version. Nothing excited me like watching Sprint Cars, so naturally I wanted to try it. Ohsweken Speedway is a great facility, and close to home and that cuts down on traveling costs. We did look at some different divisions like Mod-Lites and Can-Am Midgets, but decided on Sprint Cars.”
Where do you see yourself racing in 10 years?
“I would like to make a career out of racing, but in reality, racing is a hobby and that’s probably all it will ever be. I hope to always race, or be involved in the sport in some way.”
Which racer(s) do you consider as your role models?
“Dain Naida, Chris Durand, and Mike Westwood are probably my biggest role models. They have all taught me a lot about racing, and helped me out a lot, and I thank them for that.”
You qualified ahead of some former feature winners at the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals after only a few races. What did that feel like, and what was it like being a part of that event?
“It surprised me when I saw that. That felt good. I learned a lot in those four races, and became much more comfortable driving the car. The Sprint Car Nationals is probably one of the biggest racing events in Canada, and to be a part of it was really cool. I wasn’t planning on racing on the Saturday night, but I felt comfortable, and we went out and had tons of fun.”
What advice do you have for other young racers looking to move into full-size race cars?
“It’s a lot of work. It’s a lifestyle change, but it’s also a lot more fun than the smaller cars and go-karts. Race cars require a lot of attention and hard work, but it’s worth it when you get to go out and race on Friday or Saturday nights.”
What are your goals for the 2012 season?
“I would like to win Rookie of the Year, and maybe get a couple of Top 10 finishes, but most of all to just get seat time, learn about the car, get more comfortable in the car, and finish races.”
We often hear track promoters and others in the racing community discussing how to get young people involved in racing. What would you do to get others around your age interested?
“I think what Ohsweken is doing with the ‘Little O’ is great. Other tracks like Merrittville have done the same sort of thing, and it worked out really well. Giving young racers a chance to race at the same facilities as their favorite drivers is really cool, and I think it will bring many new racers into the sport.”
Conor would also like to thank the following sponsors and supporters for all their help in getting the #5c on the track each week:
“One Stop Auto Parts, Paint By Roger McDougall, Paint Plus Collision Supplies, Pennzoil, Stenhouse Signs and Graphics, Mike Westwood Fabrication, Full Throttle Marketing, My Dad, James, Barry, Dylan, Ryan, Tim, Rob, and Cole.”
Stay tuned for the next edition of “Question Session”. If you are a driver, team member or track official and would like to be considered for an upcoming edition of “Question Session” please CLICK HERE to contact us.