Saanich racer takes aim at podium in North West series

Gavin Aitken sits in third place in North West Formula Continental standings heading into weekend race at Mission Raceway

Gavin Aitken keeps his F2000 formula racecar in the garage of his home near Prospect Lake where he works on it between races. Aitken won the Vancouver Grand Prix at Mission in 2015 and is hoping to defend his title this weekend.

Gavin Aitken keeps his F2000 formula racecar in the garage of his home near Prospect Lake where he works on it between races. Aitken won the Vancouver Grand Prix at Mission in 2015 and is hoping to defend his title this weekend.

At the bottom of a well-treed slope, Gavin Aitken wheels his 1,200-pound Formula C race car from his garage onto the middle of his driveway near Prospect Lake.

The car is prepped for Aitken’s race this weekend at Mission Raceway, where he hopes to repeat his 2015 success by winning the Ronald McDonald House Formula C championship.

It’s the third leg of the five-event North West Formula Continental series and it’s Aitken’s third season competing in it. If he wins this weekend, the 35-year-old will jump into the first or second spot in the North West FC standings, where he currently sits third. Aitken started the season with first and third place finishes at the first two races of the year, hosted in Spokane.

“I’d like to win the series if I can,” he said. “It was a good start in Spokane, especially since we weren’t planning on going.”

Aitken credits local mechanic shop Autospiel for rushing the Formula 2000 car into race shape in only two days ahead of the Spokane race.

“We were getting some pretty major stuff done starting Wednesday with the race on Saturday, but they were game to finish it,” Aitken said. “They worked all day and night so we were ready to travel down on the Friday morning.”

It takes a lot of community and family support to run a formula race car, he added. His wife, Jennifer, has played a big part, though she’s pulled back a bit with the arrival of their two-month old son Teddy. On any given weeknight, it’s Aitken and his brother-in-law Blaine Alexander in the garage, taking the car apart and putting it back together again.

“Finishing the race is probably the hardest part, it’s pretty common for cars not to finish. You have to check and tighten every single bolt, like a pre-flight check for an airline,” Aitken said.

Then there’s the financial costs, which is the biggest barrier to auto racing. As an entrepreneur Aitken is able to fund himself.

Aitken co-founded the local tech company Go2Mobi in 2011, a successful start up that won its fourth Viatec business award last month.

“I work hard at the business so I can afford to race, this car gives me that opportunity,” he said.

Aitken didn’t grow up in an auto racing family that some drivers do. He played hockey and did some triathlons as an adult.

“The thing I enjoy about racing is how it requires physical and mental skills,” Aitken said.

The average speed around the track is about 150 km/h, causing a lateral G force of more than 2Gs.

“I equate it to the focus needed to hit a golf ball, then holding that focus for 30 to 45 minutes [which is the length of his races].”

If just looking at the Formula 2000 doesn’t already say it, the car gets going pretty fast. The English-made, two-litre engine can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, 0 to 160 km/h in 8.6 seconds and reaches a top speed on the track of around 220 km/h.

Formula 2000 is a step below Mazda’s Road to Indy on the ladder to North America’s top open wheel competition. It would be a big jump, especially for a 35-year-old, Aitken admits, but he’s not closing any doors.

“I’m not expecting to go pro but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it if I could. I do like racing and plan to keep going with it.”

To no surprise, there is another race car in his driveway. It’s not the black Porsche he drives to work, but a well-used 1990s Subaru sedan.

“I got into racing through rally cars but I got tired of spending 10 hours scraping dirt out of every crevice after a race,” Aitken said.

Instead he replaced the suspension on the Subaru with a road-kit and started timing his runs at Western Speedway. That led to the purchase of the Formula 2000, which he may soon take to Western Speedway for some solo runs as he looks to maximize the car’s performance, he said.

 

The final race of the North West FC schedule is at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton on Aug. 27-28.

 

 

Just Posted

Oak Bay police issued these surveillance images after a theft from the Cork & Barrel liquor store. The bottle of stolen whisky was valued at $4,636.99. (Courtesy Oak Bay Police Department)
Suspect swipes $5,000 bottle of whisky from Oak Bay liquor shop

Fiat towed after driver fails field sobriety test

(Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria clears parking hurdle for new Indigenous laws building

Oak Bay approves parking variance for new National Centre for Indigenous Laws

Victoria police found and returned this tricycle to a local graphics company after it was reported stolen in downtown Victoria last week. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATE: Police find stolen tricycle, return it to Victoria company

The three-wheeler was taken from the 2100-block of Store Street on June 17

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

Esquimalt businesses will be no longer be able to provide single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter come August as the municipality looks to curb the volume of soft plastics winding up in the landfill. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prepares to launch plastic checkout bag ban this summer

Bylaw takes effect Aug. 16, businesses will be unable to provide single-use plastic bags

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Most Read