Evidently, go-karting makes a good family bonding session, as seen in the Singapore Karting Championship (SKC) which has plenty of family ties within. There are various family links in the national karting series, starting with father-son Paul and Thaddeus Lee.
Paul, 44, the 2010 SKC Masters champion started out as a mechanic for his son first, before getting bitten by the racing bug and going into racing himself. At Round 3 of the SKC, both Paul and Thaddeus topped their categories respectively, fulfilling Paul’s dream of achieving a father-son double victory in the same race weekend.
It was the year-end school holidays and Thaddeus was bored. He was only 11 years only then, but was dying to get himself behind the wheel and start driving. After searching extensively on the internet, Thaddeus found a public karting track in Singapore (the now-defunct Kart World) and got his dad Paul to take him there.
“Go-karting is the only way I can start driving before getting my licence at the age of 18. I’ve always had an interest in cars and I read somewhere that karting is something which I could try at my age. I went on Google and searched for karting in Singapore. That’s when we discovered karting and we haven’t turned back since then,” said Thaddeus who is now 16 years old and taking his GCE O level examinations this year.
From just a regular recreational weekend karter, Thaddeus has climbed the ranks and is currently leading the Senior category of the SKC, despite missing the first round.
Paul and Thaddeus first went karting in December 2006, almost five years ago. Seeing that his son was not bad at karting, Paul bought Thaddeus his first kart in March 2007 – a second-hand 2-stroke Swiss Hutless Junior Rotax kart from Malaysia. Before that, they were sharing Uncle Benjamin’s (yes, the owner of BMS Racing Benjamin Goh who is also racing in the Masters category) 4-stroke 9bhp go-kart which Thaddeus needed lots of pillows behind his back to fit into the seat.
“He didn’t ask for a kart but I saw that he could drive quite well and it’s time he got his own kart instead of using other people’s karts or paying for the rental karts each time,” said Paul.
In 2009, Paul got Thaddeus another kart – a second-hand Tony Kart Junior Rotax – to help him progress to competitive karting.
“We always karted for fun and never thought about going racing. Thaddeus did take part in those club races but it was all fun and nothing serious. Then it came to a point where we felt he was ready to race. So in 2009 Thaddeus went racing officially for the first time – doing two rounds at the Rotax Max Challenge Malaysia and the Rotax Invitational Race,” Paul added.
At Thaddeus’ second race at Pekan, he finished in the front for the heats and was third fastest before the final. However, a battery failure during the final saw him being denied a chance of a podium finish.
Moving on to regional races in 2010, Thaddeus took part in the Asian Karting Open Championship with a brand new Tony Kart sponsored by Uncle Ben. He did very well, winning the ROK Junior class in the Philippines and the Formula 125 Junior Open class in Thailand – which was a new track unfamiliar to all competitors. This showed Thaddeus’ ability to learn and adapt to new tracks quickly.
Last year, Thaddeus and Paul both took part in the inaugural Singapore Karting Championship where Paul won the overall Masters title. That was Paul’s first time racing, after being crew support to his son all the while.
2011 sees Thaddeus in the Senior category for the first time and he has done well to maintain the championship lead with just one more round to go. Thaddeus skipped the first round due to school examinations, but returned for the second round and won it although he was suffering from a broken toe.
“My son’s racing will always come before mine. If there’s only space for one person to go racing, I will give it up to him for sure. Thaddeus always gets the better kart too! I am here to help him and I want him to do well; that makes me very happy,” said Paul.
“I’m very lucky that I have such supportive parents – my father who was the one that brought me into racing and my mother comes to our race weekends as well. I also have to thank Uncle Ben and Ricky for all their sponsorship and help!” Thaddeus concluded.