An 11-year-old go-kart champ from P.E.I. takes his first spin on snow

An 11-year-old go-kart champ from P.E.I. got a chance to improve his driving skills by practicing on ice and snow for the first time.

Will Lowther gets chance to improve driving skills in off-season

11-year-old go-cart champ Will Lowther from Cavendish, P.E.I., prepares to drive on ice and snow for the first time. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Eleven-year-old Will Lowther loves to drive fast. Really fast. 

The Grade 6 student from Cavendish, P.E.I., often hits 95 km/h on go-kart tracks around the Maritimes. 

"I really like the speed and there's also just the quick movements, like making your brain go quick."

11-year-old Will Lowther takes his go-kart for a spin on snow and ice

5 years ago
Duration 0:56
11-year-old Will Lowther takes his go-kart for a spin on snow and ice 0:56

Out on the tarmac

In 2016, he won three Maritime championships, and the previous year was named Atlantic Canadian Driver of the Year by Canadian Karting News.

CBC asked Will's dad, Ryan Lowther, if there was anywhere Will could safely demonstrate his skills for us.

Will Lowther helps his dad change the tires. Normally, slick tires are used when racing on paved tracks, but because of the snow and ice, a set of treaded tires is put on. (Pat Martel/CBC)

In the summer he often practices on a track in Moncton, N.B., but for this Ryan set up a chance for Will to test his skills on the tarmac at the Summerside airport, which was covered with a bit of snow and ice.

'I'm really excited'

He said it would be a learning experience for his son.

"This is going to be my first time [on ice and snow]. I'm really excited," said Will.

"We'll let him test it out and see how it feels and his job, as the driver — as he knows, is to get used to it and figure out how to handle the car," said Ryan.

Ryan Lowther gets Will to help maintain the go-kart. 'It's good when a racer knows how to do some of the different things.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

Will helped his dad remove the slick tires normally used for racing on pavement to replace them with rain tires that have treads.

'Spinning, spinning and spinning'

On his first few runs, he slipped and slid. His top speed was around 30 km/h.

"You keep spinning, spinning and spinning and it was so fun though," he said.

Will Lowther gets up to 30 km/h on the ice and snow, but during races on a real go-kart track, he can hit speeds of 95 km/h. (Pat Martel/CBC)

After a few more rounds, Will drove like he had been racing on ice and snow for years, hooting and hollering.

"It was just so fun compared to just smooth pavement," he said. "Because you actually have to go, 'Wheee, wheee, wheee.'"

Adapting to 'whatever comes at you'

Ryan Lowther agreed it was a real treat and learning experience for his son.

"Once you can adapt to these different situations, then when something happens in the middle of the race, you're that much more equipped to handle whatever comes at you."

Will is moving from the Novice or Cadet division into the Junior division, and Ryan said that will mean driving a car that has a lot more power. 

"The feeling of drifting around a turn. That's something he needs to get used to real quick, and I think he did that today. It was great."  

11-year-old Will Lowther says he gets excited when it's time to put on his racing suit. 'I love the feel of it. Just knowing that I'm getting ready to race.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

'A little nerve-wracking'

Will has been racing since he was nine.

"It's a little nerve-wracking at times," his dad admitted. "Last summer at the national competition, he was hitting about 95 kms, going into a hairpin turn making passes. But when you watch him drive and you realize what control he has of the vehicle, it's pretty impressive."

Will Lowther gives thumbs up after successfully driving on ice and snow. His dad says the experience will help Will when he returns to the go-kart track this summer. (Pat Martel/CBC)


Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.