Skip to content

Young speedster has a great summer on the racetrack

Cole Burrows, 11, is carrying on a family tradition in the sport of car racing

That was one fast summer for Guelph’s Cole Burrows.

The Guelph native, who is to turn 12 late this month, scored four wins last weekend to raise his victory total to 24 in a shortened Junior Late Model racing season split between Full Throttle International Speedway near Varney and Grand Bend International Speedway.

“I have a lot of competition,” Cole said. “At Full Throttle and Grand Bend, they're starting to get a bunch of good cars there. I'm starting to get a lot of competition there.”

With the fierce competition in his class, Cole has found that patience is a virtue.

“You just have to take your time when you’re on the track,” he said. “You just have to wait until for the move when you try to pass them.

“I don't pass in the corners, I try to go on the straightaways. I just have to wait until they make a little mistake and then I try to (capitalize).”

That Cole got involved in racing isn’t all that surprising as that is definitely his family’s sport of choice. It’s in their blood. His father David Burrows is a former Mini Stock track champion at Sunset and Barrie Speedways and he also raced Modifieds. Grandfather Bill Burrows and great uncles Chris and Jamie Burrows also raced throughout the province.

On his mother Amanda’s side of the family, Cole’s great grandparents Ken and Judy Shakell were founders of Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, great uncle Doug Shakell had several championship victories over the years and also competed in Speed Weeks in Florida, the annual event leading up to the Daytona 500. Cole’s step-grandfather James Rodgers has also raced in several divisions, most recently in the Outlaw Midgets Club.

Cole’s path to the driver’s seat started at one of his dad’s races at Grand Bend.

“There was one of the J cars in the window and they looked really cool so me and my dad, we walked down and we saw all the J cars,” he said. “We were talking about looking at them, seeing what they were and seeing if there was a lot of work.”

There is quite a bit of work, but not enough to scare the Burrows away.

“I was probably six when I saw the J car and then we bought one and we were just tinkering around with it and then when I was seven, I was going out and practising and doing races,” Cole said.

Most of the work on the car is done during the offseason and in between races.

“Me and my dad, we take the car apart,” Cole said. “We take off all the fenders and the tires and we clean the car out every week so it's going to be good. We do a nut and bolt check, too.”

The Junior Late Model series is for drivers aged 5 to 15. Those 11 and under compete in the junior class of the series while the senior class is for drivers 12 to 15 although both classes are on the track at the same time.

The cars are a little over nine-feet in length and are powered by nine horsepower Honda motors.

When Cole started racing, he was always the youngest driver at the track. His first race was at Full Throttle, also the site of his first victory.

In the last few weeks, Cole has been breaking in a new car in his class.

“I'm starting to like that (new) car a lot and I think we're going to be running that car in the next two races (this weekend at Grand Bend) and then that's going to be the end of the season.”

The coronavirus pandemic hit sports hard and auto racing wasn’t immune. Racing in the province didn’t start until late in May and schedules were reduced. Spectators weren’t allowed, either.

“I don't really notice it (when I’m driving),” Cole said of the empty grandstands. It’s a little different when he’s out of the car, though. “It's pretty quiet, but I don't really mind it.”

The reduced schedules have made the tracks abandon their track championships. Cole won his class title at Full Throttle for the first time last year, the year he captured his third consecutive class crown at Sauble Speedway.

Cole’s getting to the age when boys typically start thinking about getting their licences to be able to drive on the highways, but he said those aren’t thought that occupy too much of his time.

“I don't really care since I have my own car and I can do circles around the track,” he said.

A Kyle Busch fan, Cole is to start his Grade 7 year at Waverley Drive Public School next week. His friends will be waiting to hear about his latest on-track exploits.

“They think it's pretty cool.”

For next year, Cole’s likely going to stay in the Junior Late Model class, but switch his racing to Sunset Speedway, the track his great grandparents founded.

“I think we're going to be racing next year at Sunset Speedway,” Cole said. “Then we're thinking about moving up to a bigger car, a mini stock or a legends car or something.”

While Cole has raced at Sunset in the past, his planned 2020 season there was scuppered by Covid-19. That and an increased field in his class at that track has left Cole looking forward to next season.

“There are going to be a lot of cars at Sunset,” he said. “A lot of the Late Model guys, their kids want to get racing so they're getting J cars so it's going to be pretty tough.

“It's going to be pretty cool.”