From the beginning of the season in May, Mike Norris had his eyes focused on a single goal – racing for the Ontario Pro Challenge Series Championship. He knew it’d be a challenge, but the hard work all year paid off. To his disbelief still, he was able to take home the series title.
While others get to enjoy the honor alongside their family and friends, Norris’ experience comes in a unique way. Not only is he celebrating the accomplishment alongside them, but he had to battle with his father Tim and sister Emma on a weekly basis.
“Racing with your family has its ups and downs,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “But it is definitely a special opportunity. Very few people get the chance to race cars and when you get to race with you sister and father, it always (is) an interesting experience.”
Going into the year, a lot of people expected Tim to be on top at year-end in the standings, given his previous track record in the series as a multi-time champion. However, Mike utilized the advice from his father through the years to make it happen.
“There are three main things my dad has driven to me from day one,” Mike recalled. “One being sure you are a prepared for every situation at the track and having a good car preparation before you even leave. Second being patient, on and off the track; if it isn’t you day don’t ruin someone else’s. Thirdly, consistency, every inch matters. He has shown me multiple times when he puts on a clinic, that being in the right spot on the track at all times makes you significantly faster than others.”
Mike Norris’ campaign was not anything short of successful, as he scored 10 feature wins and 18 top-five’s over the 18 events for an average finish of 1.66667. He admits it was not easy to put up those numbers, adding, “There were a lot of drivers that tried to make it hard for me. I definitely made it known that I was going for gold. I really wanted to be the youngest driver in Canadian history to win the championship.”
Although the majority of those events were contested at Flamboro Speedway, it was the tight confines of Full Throttle Motor Speedway which produced his most memorable moment of 2022.
“Having to start at the back of the pack for both races and winning both, while having my sister follow me to her first second place finish,” he explained. “This was definitely the most memorable moment for me.”
With the title in hand, he is keeping his goals simple for next year in hopeful of going back-to-back. There are aspirations to further his racing experience, but for now, he is set on staying with Ontario Pro Challenge full time for a while.
“The best part about Ontario Pro Challenge is the field of drivers,” he commented. “Every race I get out of my car without any scuffs or tire marks. Every driver is happy and congratulating everyone on the great race. That’s why I love the series. Everyone respects each other and we know we are going to race hard but cleanly – something I think is missing in most series right now.
“I really have to thanks all my sponsors, crew chief, friends and family. If I didn’t have the help and support from all of them my racing career would be short lived.”