When Luke Whitteker first spoke to The Leader about his racing, it was August 2005. He was 11 years old and was busy preparing for the final lap of his first year of competitive kart racing. He would enter grade 7 at Iroquois Public School in September.
Today, the 18 year old is a first year student at Carleton University, Ottawa, where he is studying mechanical engineering.
Recently, he became the first Canadian to win the prestigious Race 101 Premier Driver Award having graduated the one year scholarship program based in North Carolina with top honours.
He claims that had he been asked during that first interview, he would not have thought that seven years later he would be a veteran Dirt track racer about to experience his first ride in a late model car.
Asked if he is about where he wants to be at this time in his racing career, he says, “Right now I’m a Dirt racer, and I’m going to learn about asphalt racing.”
That is what the Premier 101 Driver Award will provide in the coming months. For the Iroquois youth, that is a good place to be.
Race 101 is an educational and consulting program for the auto racing industry. It offers yearly scholarships for up and coming racers and was founded in 2009, by veteran racing crew chief Tony Blanchard, longtime motorsports marketing/Pr consultant Annamarie Strawhand and television announcer Adam Ross.
Students experience the driving, mechanical and marketing sides of motorsports and at the end of the year, the ‘premier’ driver is announced.
The premier driver is then given the opportunity to drive the Race 101 Howe super late model ‘house car’ in actual competition.
Luke says the program was “heavily weighted towards public relations, how to get money and how to establish yourself.”
Most of the program was delivered on line in weekly webinars. “We could all see each other on line, and we got the lectures together. We got together every week for the whole year.”
In addition, Luke travelled to North Carolina four times, Charlotte, North Carolina twice and to Florida once.
He explains that he was aware of the program through a friend who had gone through it. He applied on line and was thrilled to be selected as one of the 16 students for 2011.
He was even more thrilled when he was named the premier driver at the February 11, 2012, awards banquet held in Hickory, North Carolina.
For the premier selection, he admits “I wasn’t the best on the technical and I wasn’t the best in the marketing, but I was good enough at both to win the overall. I put my honest effort into both.”
He figures he did well in the situations the students were put into at various events, that he did well in his radio interview and that he had three great references (which were a requirement) from a local O. P. P. officer, a fellow Dirt Car star and from a very good friend and Motivational Speaker.
As the Race 101 premier driver for 2011, Luke says his job now “is to represent Race 101. You can say I’m hired to represent 101.” He points out, however, that it is a two way track, so to speak, as he too will benefit from the exposure.
“I’m guaranteed three events with the car and however much practise I need. This is special. In our area we are saturated with Dirt track racing. Down there it’s more asphalt tracks.”
With the 2012 season fast approaching the Whitteker Motorsport Team is now busy getting ready. Last year, Whitteker competed at the popular Autodrome Granby track in Drummondville where he was named Top Rookie Driver.
Attracting sponsorships is important for racers and the Whitteker Motorsport team is now in the process of securing sponsorship for the upcoming season.
Since he first began racing in 2005, Luke has been sponsored by Rust Check and Parcoll Products/Napa Auto Parts. Some other major sponsors include Toy Storage & Boat Transport, the 730 Truck Stop, Steve Summers and C Double J Harvesting. Another eight businesses, several of them local, were on board in 2011.
As he wraps up his current semester at Carleton, Luke is busy putting the marketing portion of his Race 101 studies to the test for the first time as he approaches would-be sponsors for the 2012 race year.