Montreal Gazette

Karting prodigy vows to dust F1 drivers

Jesse Lazare, 10, will test his skills against pros tonight

- ARPON BASU SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

With the world’s greatest race-car drivers converging on the city for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Canada, Dollard des Ormeaux native Jesse Lazare is preparing to protect his turf.

Lazare is one of the brightest young karting talents in Quebec, and tonight, for the second year in a row, he will welcome Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 drivers Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi to go for a spin at his home track, Kart-o-Mania on De La Savane St.

Last year, Lazare won one and lost one in the friendly challenge at the indoor karting track, but he fully intends to erase that blemish this time around.

“I was happy to beat an F1 driver,” Lazare said. “But this year, I’m going to win both for sure. No one beats me on this track.”

Those are strong words from someone going up against two of the world’s elite, but they’re made even stronger when coming from a 10-year-old boy in Grade 4.

Lazare has been karting competitiv­ely for three years, and last winter he finished eighth overall in the Florida Winter Tour, a six-race circuit that attracts drivers from across North America.

This season, Lazare has been dominating Quebec’s karting circuits for his SH Karting racing team, despite being one of the youngest drivers in the Mini-Max engine category, which can reach speeds of up to 110 km/h.

Lazare has won three of his four races, his only loss coming after his kart stalled on the first turn. He blew away the field at his race last Saturday, winning the pole position by more than a second in qualifying, winning the pre-final by more than 11 seconds, and finally winning the main race by nearly 23 seconds.

But Lazare’s success should come as little surprise considerin­g he was practicall­y placed in a car straight out of the womb.

“We knew something special was going on when we got him a battery-powered car when he was one,” Lazare’s father, Gordie, said. “He would go around and around in our basement, and he never touched any of the furniture.”

Lazare received a 50-cc ATV a year later when he was 2, and now he is so in tune with the mechanics of his kart that he can come into the pits with amazingly specific adjustment­s that are needed, like moving a wheel a half inch to the outside.

Lazare hits a karting track every weekend of the year, and says the thought of skipping a weekend has never crossed his mind.

“Never,” he said. “Never in my life.”

Though Lazare is more of a NASCAR fan today, he aspires one day to make his mark in Formula One. Before that, however, he has some business to take care of this evening, and Lazare is already prepared for the excuses he will hear if he’s able to beat Speed and Liuzzi at Karto-Mania.

“They always give the excuse that I’m lighter,” said Lazare, who weighs 85 pounds soaking wet. “Well, I have the excuse that I’m 10 years old.”

 ?? MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER THE GAZETTE ?? “No one beats me on this track,” Jesse Lazare, 10, says about his race tonight against F1 drivers at Kart-o-Mania.
MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER THE GAZETTE “No one beats me on this track,” Jesse Lazare, 10, says about his race tonight against F1 drivers at Kart-o-Mania.

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