In the tradition of Team Arctic oval racers like Larry Coltom, Jim Dimmerman and P.J. Wanderscheid, Colt Dellandrea is starting young and starting fast. In just his second season of contesting the Eastern Pro Tour, the 17-year old from Kincardine, Ontario, finished sixth in Semi-Pro Champ and was named Most Improved Driver! Colt was kind enough to answer some questions about his progression, his sled and where he’s going from here.
AI: First of all, congrats on the awesome season of racing. Can you run us through the highlights?
Dellandrea: We moved up into Champ 440 racing this year which was a big leap forward for me. I had planned on just racing Semi-Pro but after the first race I decided to run the Pro class as well, mainly for just more track time. I had good results in Semi-Pro for it being my first season on a Champ sled, my best finish was 2nd place at Eganville. I didn’t have as good of results in the Pro class as I’d hoped, but I always qualified for the final and just racing with all the big names and learning what it takes to be competitive was an accomplishment. At the end of the season, while not competing in all of the races I ended up 6th in points for Semi-Pro Champ, and received the 2011 Eastern Pro Tour Most Improved Driver Award. This was really great to earn this award as just proving my place in Champ racing was a big accomplishment.
AI: How many years have you been racing, and describe the progression?
Dellandrea: This was only my second season oval racing. My first year of racing I started out on a Formula 500 sled which was really great and I had good success with it. I raced the Sport and Semi-Pro level classes on this sled and ended up with quite a few wins and the points championship in Sport Formula 500 that year (2009-2010 race season). Having this success was a real confidence booster. So for my second year of racing (this past season) my dad and I decided that I’d move up to a Champ sled. At first I thought I may not be ready for this type of sled as it was a big change to get used to. The speed and aggressiveness of these sleds is something that many may not realize, but after getting on the sled and starting to get a feel for it I was glad to be on it and never looked back.
AI: How is it that you chose oval racing instead of the other options?
Dellandrea: That’s a good question as it seems most young guys aren’t interested in oval racing these days, rather their into the whole snocross scene. My dad used to be into oval racing as a teenager at the local fairground races. A few years before I got into oval racing he restored a couple Mercury Sno-Twister’s. After seeing and working on these sleds with him and going to a couple oval races to see what it was all about, I caught the bug and knew it was something I wanted to do. That’s how it all started for me, and I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve still thought that racing snocross would be fun, but there’s just something about oval racing that I find so much more exciting.
AI: Tell us about your sleds. Who builds the chassis and engines?
Dellandrea: Our sleds are custom-built race sleds. Champ racing allows 440cc fully-modified engines and any type of chassis you want to use, there aren’t many restriction on what you can use. So our chassis is custom-built which uses a somewhat stock Arctic Cat front end, and the rest is custom fabricated. The way it was built was basically a copy of how John Hooper (Hooper Race Engines) designed his own Champ chassis. It has an Arctic Cat power plant moving it forward, which is a SnoPro 440 engine built by John Hooper, the same guy that builds the 4-Time World Champion PJ Wanderscheid’s motors. It is wicked fast and a blast to drive!
AI: What are three things about your approach to racing that have made a positive impact on your enjoyment and/or success?
Dellandrea: First, I’ve gone into racing with a positive attitude knowing that I’m there to have fun. Now of course I’m there to get good results and win, but keeping a positive attitude throughout it all makes moving ahead easier.
Second, part of racing is proving to myself that I can do good out there and be just as good as all the big-name racers you hear about. You could say it’s been a goal of mine to be able to race with all the big name racers while being the “underdog.” This goal makes myself keep pushing and working hard for what I want to be able to do.
And third, my dad and I are pretty much a two-man team, we do all our own work at the track and everything it takes to get the sled ready. So getting into the racing circuit while being just a small team and earning success while making it a family thing really makes it enjoyable for me, and being able to share it all with my dad makes it special.
AI: If there are a couple of famous oval sleds from the past 40 years that you’d like to put 25 laps on what are they?
Dellandrea: The first being one of the old Ski-Doo twin-trackers. They’re just so unique and wild that I’d love to be able to take one around the track to see what they were like and to be able to say that I’ve drove one. Another famous sled that I’ve always been a fan of is the 1980 Team Arctic Cat Sno Pro. To this day I still think they are one of the best looking race sleds made. The aggressive styling and the success that the old Team Arctic team had with these sleds make them one that I would love to own and put some laps on. But in terms of newer equipment, being able to put some laps on one of PJ Wanderscheid’s World Championship winning sleds would be something I would love the opportunity to do. You never know what secret’s we could learn!
AI: What do you do for fun when you’re not racing?
Dellandrea: In the winter when I have some spare time (which isn’t very often once race season starts approaching) I have a Sno Pro 600 that I rip around on for fun, it’s a good change considering how I don’t usually get the opportunity to catch air on the oval track (on purpose anyways). In the summer months I have a race quad and I go riding at the local MX tracks with my buddies that race dirt bikes. I’m actually going to start racing ATV MX this summer for something to keep me busy and help train for next year.
AI: What are your goals for next season?
Dellandrea: For next season I’m taking it more seriously in terms of training and preparation. We’re doing all that we can to get our sled improved and ready to go out there and win, so that’s what I’m personally doing also. I’m treating it like a job and a lifestyle, and going to do everything I can to prepare myself for victory. My goal is to have another great season, and go out there and win. I want to prove that a young guy without a high-budget program can go out there and be competitive.
AI: Tell us about your sponsors, and the people who help you.
Dellandrea: I couldn’t do this all by myself, of course. As I previously mentioned, my dad and I are a two-man team, but with the help of others knowledge, advice, and lending a hand when we need it we’re able to stay on the right track and be competitive. Our sponsors really help to make this happen for us also, so I have to thank John Hooper (Hooper Race Engines) for building us a great motor and helping us out with sled set-up, plus Team Arctic, Arnie’s Cat House, Lucas Oil, Leatt Brace, Klotz, Woody’s Traction, Fibe Industries, Spy Optics, and HMK. Without the assistance of all these people and companies we really wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing. I have to say a special thanks to my parents though, my mom and dad are the ones that come to the races with me and have made this all happen!