It’s an unfortunate reality that having talent in motorsport doesn’t always translate into career success, but for 15 year old Mackenzie Clark it’s at least given him a chance to showcase his abilities at the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy Shootout in France. Selected among the top karting drivers in Canada, and one of 18 globally, Mackenzie will represent himself, his team and his country, as he battles for a full-ride in the 2020 FIA F4 Championship in France.
“We started Mac in karting when he was 10 years old” says Mackenzie’s father and coach, Stuart, speaking to me over the phone from Ontario, Canada. “He did very well very quickly, representing Canada overseas in Italy and then winning a big international karting race at SKUSA this year. We then moved him to focus on F1600 this year and sure enough he secured Rookie Of The Year in the F1600 Canada series” he adds.
In fact, I’m told Mackenzie set a new team track record for an F1600 car at Cayuga the first time he ever tested the Britain West vehicle. For those unfamiliar with Cayuga, it’s an older, low-grip circuit in Ontario, Canada that requires a delicate touch – something Mackenzie developed during his time in karting.
“It was based on that performance and his comfort in the car that we extended our season and went to Tremblant for the Fall Classic with Britain West where he finished third and even had the fastest lap in the race” adds Stuart. Now that Mac has wrapped up his first full year in an F1600 car, Stuart says that next year they’re gunning for the championship.
However, the big date marked on the calendar for the Clark family is December 3rd, 4th and 5th – the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy Shootout. Mackenzie was able to qualify for the shootout by earning his victory at SKUSA while driving with Prime Powerteam on a Birel ART chassis. It was this accolade that caught the attention of Birel ART, who partners with Richard Mille in finding the best young talent around the world to support their transition from karts to cars. And the opportunity isn’t being taken lightly, current F1 star Charles Leclerc also represented Richard Mille in the FIA F4 Championship in France.
It seems Mac is truly an up and coming talent but his father Stuart isn’t forcing anything on the talented teenager. “I understand he’s my son and I’ve been coaching him, but it’s really only been this year that I’ve seen it in him.. that he’s really got what it takes. I had zero expectations to be honest.. but he’s having fun and he’s staying out of trouble. If he makes it, great. If he doesn’t, great”.
But like any parent of a young teenager, there’s an academic component associated to Mackenzie’s athletic endeavours – regardless of how talented he may be. “He wants to be a motorsport engineer. He’s in the advanced classes at school and on the honour roll, that’s our deal with him – it’s all tied to schooling. If schooling goes down, he’s done. Our deal is that he’ll go to a high-level university that’s motorsport specific and he’ll become a very good engineer. But certainly with his CV and racing resume he’ll be an amazing motorsport engineer – that is, if we can’t make it as a driver”.
Prior to the Richard Mille Young Talent Shootout in December, Mackenzie Clark will be competing at SuperNats in Las Vegas – the largest and most competitive karting event of the year. His father Stuart assures me there’s no pressure as Mackenzie will be going up against numerous world champions, but it’ll be a fun challenge and another chance to represent Prime Powerteam and Birel ART. If you keep an eye on the Racing Edge Instagram, you’ll likely catch the young phenom doing an Instagram takeover, live from SuperNats.
Zlad Dujsic is a physics fiend. These machines allow him to explore the limits of the physical world and for that reason he’s motorsport obsessed. He’s a full time creative and part time crazy person.