Grant Quinlan has his priorities straight. The 20 year-old Lakeshore resident loves motor racing and has been fairly successful the last few years, but he’s slowed his schedule a bit because of his education. Currently in his third year of mechanical engineering studies at the University of Windsor and set to graduate next year, it would seem his career is not having a negative effect on his education. In fact, he’s been on the Dean’s list for the last two years…still waiting for word on his chances this year. He also works for his dad who’s in the construction business.
He’s been competing for a number of years, and like most professional drivers, he started off in go karts at the age of 6. By the age of 12 he was racing Legends cars and stayed behind the wheel for a couple of years before moving on to bigger and faster cars in 2014. He ran in the CRA all-star series for a year and finished third overall in the points. The following year he won the CRA ARCA Super Series championship after stepping into one of the series’ specially prepared cars. ARCA racers are identical to NASCAR vehicles in terms of the chassis. They sport fiberglass bodies and are powered by identical 700 horsepower Crate V-8 engines manufactured by Ilmore, the same company that produces Indycar powerplants.
In 2016 Grant joined the Rette Jones Racing team, which was involved in the NASCAR K&N series and did quite well, particularly last year when he finished in the top five three times, and the top ten five times. K&N racing is an American series with most events on the east coast, usually New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. Earlier this year, Grant finished third in the 200 mile ARCA Daytona at the legendary speedway in the Sunshine State.
“I’d like to take a shot at full-time racing down the road,” says Grant, “I’d certainly like to make something out of it.” In the meantime, he remains in contact with his good friend, Roman DeAngelis, who, at the age of 17, was the youngest competitor in the 24 hours of Daytona. In fact, the two raced go karts together and remain in contact today.
Just having turned 18 several weeks ago, Roman is looking forward to the upcoming race season. The Windsor native is in his final year at Ste. Anne’s High School and intends to study engineering at one of the universities to which he’s applied. And as he puts it, “to have an engineering degree and race cars at the same time is the ultimate life experience.”
He started karting around the age of 10 by “going to the track, driving around doing laps.” His father, Max, an avid race fan and occasional competitor was the catalyst that fueled the young man’s interest in the sport. He did most of his practicing at the Point Pelee Karting Club in Leamington and at his first race, he took the checkered flag. “It was a great way to catch the bug,” he says, “and things began escalating a lot quicker than I had expected and I started karting nationally and internationally.” In 2013, after competing with Team Canada in the Rotax Max Grand Finals, he began testing Formula Ford for Brian Graham Racing out of Toronto and ran with the team for about two years until he was invited to race a Porsche 997 Cup Car in the FARA 500 in Homestead Florida, an event in which his father had originally been slated to participate. Roman’s adeptness around the track caught the eye of fellow competitor Marco Cirone who convinced his sponsor, Mark Motors, a huge upscale Ottawa sports car dealership, to give the 15 year-old a chance to drive in the Canadian Porsche Series. In 2017, Roman became the youngest Canadian to win the championship in his native country and placed third in the U.S. challenge, even after missing three events. After renewing his contract with Mark Motors last year, he graduated to the Platinum class, where he finished second in both Canada and the U.S. At the same time, he ran in three IMSA sanctioned events, of which he won two…once in Daytona and again in Sebring.
This past November, Roman got a call from Audi, asking him to be part of the four-drive team in the 24 hours of Daytona, aboard an R8 LMS GT3. After a series of mishaps, red flags and bad weather, Roman pitted from the lead and ended up finishing third in his class…the youngest Canadian ever and third youngest in the world to compete in the grueling 24-hour competition.
This season, Roman will again drive a Porsche for Mark Motors in Canada and Kelly Moss in the states which is partnered with Children’s Hospital of Alabama that treats childhood cancers. “It’s a good place to be,” says the young driver, “and Porsche is the right company to be with. They have an excellent program for young guys like me and I’ve got plenty of time to improve myself before making a showing in a pro series like Daytona.” In the meantime, he’ll continue his physical training at least 5 times a week and when time permits, will be at a part-time job washing vehicles for a local trucking firm.
Roman DeAngelis definitely has racing in his blood and he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s been given. “And, when you’re at places like Daytona, or Sebring, Road America, or LeMans and see the number of fans they attract, you realize how cool the racing atmosphere is.” It is, he says, an insane physical sport that’s hard on both your body and the mind. “Drivers,” he says, “particularly endurance drivers have to be fit. By the end of my six hours behind the wheel at Daytona, there were two or three days when I didn’t do anything...I was so totally worn out.”
While he maintains that any time you’re paid to drive a race car is good, his main goal is to win LeMans, or Daytona…any manufacturer will do!