FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A Fort St. John native has been making waves in the kart racing world, despite having been involved in the sport for less than three years.
Ben Maxfield’s journey into the world of motorsports began approximately four years ago, and originally comprised success in the simulator. When he was fourteen, Maxfield got a racing wheel controller for his Xbox console, and began setting blistering lap times on car racing simulator games. After setting an online world record in the game, he progressed to more advanced simulators on the PC. Realising that he had a natural ability to make a car go as fast as possible around a track, Maxfield did some research to find out exactly what steps he could take to become a professional racing driver. According to his research, Maxfield learned that all racing drivers start their careers racing go karts, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For the past two years, Maxfield has been racing Rotax go karts. The karts, which are built by BRP, are all powered by a 125cc two-stroke engine that develops between 8 and 34 horsepower. By comparison, most recreational go kart tracks provide guests with karts that develop 10 horsepower or less. Maxfield says that though the speed of the karts was initially surprising, he says that the real performance of his machine lies in its cornering ability. After several weeks spent racing in Montreal at the end of the summer, the 18 year-old says that even weeks later, his ribs are still sore after being forced into the side bolters of his seat.
The former national speed skating champion first started racing with the Edmonton Kart Racing Association in 2014, and has since raced in approximately 25 races. Of those, he has managed roughly 19 podium finishes, and 8 first-place finishes. This despite starting comparatively late for a racing driver; most begin racing go karts at the age of 8.
In his two years of racing, Maxfield has gone up against some of the biggest names in the sport, including NASCAR driver and Sherwood Park native Noel Dowler, Jr.; two-time Western champion Skylar Dunning, and Ben Cooper. Racing against these marquee drivers has helped Maxfield improve his driving immensely. Though the current season is largely finished, this winter he hopes to bring all he’s learned to Florida for the Florida Winter Tour, which runs from January through March.
Maxfield plans to make next year his last racing karts, and says that heading to Europe and race Formula 4 cars would be a natural progression in his racing career. He says that the next few months won’t be particularly easy, as he is also currently in his 2nd year at the University of Calgary studying to get a Finance degree.