It's been ten years since an unsure and inexperienced 15 year-old Kenny Polite first took to the track at the Brockville Ontario Speedway. The last decade has brought with it countless lessons, up and downs, and many memories for the now 25-year-old Prescott driver.
After eight years in the Sportsman division, Polite is currently racing his second season in the 358 Modified division.
"When I first switched divisions, it was the speed that was the biggest change. Now that I'm in my second year and have gotten used to the speed, it's just learning how to handle my car like the rest of them out there. A lot of these guys have years of experience, so they know their cars very well. I'm constantly learning," says Polite of the switch from the Sportsman to 358 Modified class.
In his first season in the 358 Modified division last year, Polite finished a complete season and came in 12th in points. This season has held more challenges for the local driver. On his second race night of the season, his car was completely wrecked.
"It's been a tough season. We had to take a few weeks off to rebuild, and it's been a battle ever since, but we're slowly figuring it out," says Polite of the ups and downs of the racing world.
Kenny and his Pit Crew work on car number 7K, which has a 2011 Bicknell chassis and a motor built in Cobden, Ontario, out of a home base at Steve Polite Sand & Gravel in Prescott. His team consists of his parents Steve and Ann-Marie Polite, his girlfriend Megan Dukelow, friends Kyle Heisel, Brittany Kelly, Ernie Perrin, and John Eday.
"I have a very dedicated Pit Crew; I appreciate them and all they do very much. My Dad, Steve Polite, is my biggest sponsor and biggest help. He does a lot for me. I really can't thank my team enough for being there week after week," says Polite of the importance of his team as well as his father's role and investment in his racing career.
The main sponsor for Kenny Polite Racing is Steve Polite Sand & Gravel, along with Splash Well Drilling, Chevron Construction Services, Drummond's Fuels, and Ernie's Auto Clinic.
"Sponsors are so important in this sport, and mine are great. I'm very thankful to them for supporting me," says Polite of the significance having solid sponsorships make in the sport.
As the years have come and gone and Polite has become a constant face at the Brockville Ontario Speedway, he has seen a local fanbase develop.
"I've noticed the last few years I've had a lot more followers for sure. It's really cool having little kids that look up to me. I've done a lot of visits to local daycares and schools and the kids really love it. They get excited to see the car, and the older kids ask lots of questions, it's really cool. I'm really thankful to all my fans; they keep me out there every week," says Polite of making connections with his fans and of the extra push having a fanbase gives you to keep going.
Though he only races on Saturdays, maintaining his car is a never-ending task, one which requires constant dedication and focus.
"It's basically my second job. I'm out there almost every night working on something, then all day Saturday working on the car, and Saturday night at the track," says Polite of the hours he puts towards the sport.
"Racing has always been a big part of my life. Even when I was little, I remember falling asleep watching the cars at the track on Friday nights. My dad has been a sponsor of the track ever since it reopened. My dad raced in the 80s, so that was a big influence for me. I started racing go-carts a couple years before I got into the big cars, and that really got me into it. Then one March Break, my dad surprised me with a race car, and I've been going ever since," says Polite of the many factors that influenced him to become a race car driver.
Of the many lessons he's taken from a decade in the sport, polite says the one that stands above them all is patience.
"Patience is something you have to have. Patience with everyone - my crew, other drivers, the track; you need to learn patience. Not everything is going to go the way you want all the time, and not everyone is going to do things the way you think they should be done, but you have to accept it and keep moving," says Polite.