(PHOTO: Stittsville’s Stephanie Berg will be competing at the Capital Karting 2016 Grand Prix at Karter’s Korner on August 6-7. Photo by Barry Gray.)
Engines rumble to life and gasoline floats in the air. At the intersection of Huntley and Fallowfield Rd, visitors at Karters’ Korner zig zag at high speeds along one of the main attractions: the go-kart track.
On the weekend of August 6-7, Karters’ Korner will host the second annual Ottawa Mayor’s Cup of Wishes and Capital Karting Grand Prix.
This community and family-oriented event is split into two parts: on the Saturday, hopeful teams will race against each other for the Mayor’s Cup, and all their money raised goes to various charities. On the Sunday, individuals have the chance to race competitively in the Grand Prix.
The weekend isn’t only for those who want to see competitive racing. The Karters’ Korner grounds will be packed with free, family-friendly activities such as jungle gyms, face painting and bouncy castles.
On the volunteer committee is a racing enthusiast named Stephanie Berg. Racing has been Berg’s passion since she was about five years old. Now 28, she leapt at the opportunity to become a volunteer:
“It’s free for the community to attend,” Berg said. “One of my favourite parts is seeing kids come out and getting interested. The parents come out and they love it too.”
Mayor Jim Watson, who gave the blessing to name the event the “Mayor’s Cup of Wishes”, is scheduled to attend on Saturday and will be presenting the cup to the winning team.
“There is a racing community in Ottawa, and there’s specifically a go-karting community. A lot of people just don’t know about it, and they’re missing out on a really fun event,” Berg said.
Seeing children and youth attending last year’s Mayor’s Cup reminded Berg of how her love of racing it has shaped her life growing up. When she was 19, Berg was the only girl above 16 at the National Capital Kart Club, the main club in Ottawa.
“Girls need women to look up to,” she said. “That’s one of the best parts, and coming from someone who races, when I see younger girls, six seven eight out there, I regret not painting my go-kart pink.”
Regardless of similarities and differences, go-karting puts everyone at the same playing field. Racers with their go-karts must weigh in at the same weight bracket as the class they are competing against.
“There’s no excuses. Strength and endurance, maybe have a bit to do with it. But I don’t think it’s the difference between first and second. It comes down to pure skill, and everyone competes equally.”
But it isn’t all about winning, Berg explained. It’s the feeling you get when you race.
“It’s nice to get just out there and that’s all you’re focused on. This corner, this specific corner. This second. You’re literally living in the moment,” she said. “You come off the track and you just feel good.”
“Some of my best races weren’t for first. Some of my best races were for third—just you and two other people just going back and forth. Good clean racing. Having fun. To the point where you get off the track, you shake hands and say, ‘that was so much fun!’”
In the spirit of community and good cheer, Karters’ Korner will also be hosting a charity barbeque on August 6, after the Mayor’s Cup competition ends.
To find out more about the weekend-long event, follow the Ottawa Mayor’s Cup’s Facebook page.