Coquitlam realtor bets big bucks on auto racing dream

Coquitlam realtor Colin Colpitts makes his living helping people realize their dreams of home ownership.

Now he wants to make the competitive dreams of a pair of young race drivers come true.

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Colpitts has partnered with Langley businessman Ewen Dobbie to launch Relentless Motorsports, the first Canadian team in the F3 Americas series, a regional developmental auto racing circuit that allows drivers to accumulate FIA Super License points towards eventually advancing to the world's biggest circuit, Formula 1.

Dobbie’s 26-year-old son, Andrew, will be one of the team’s drivers while the other will be Mitch Egner, 27, a Coquitlam resident.

It was Colpitts’ relationship with Egner as he ripped his own cars — an open-wheel racer and a sleek black Porsche — around the private Area 27 track in Oliver that connected him to the Dobbies and led to his progression from weekend hobbyist to team owner.

It’s a big step, Colpitts said — especially financially.

Colpitts and Ewen estimate the team’s budget for its first season that is comprised of seven races across North America including one stop in Canada — at Trois-Rivieres, Que., in August — will be about $1 million. But a lot of that is initial capital cost to acquire two cars, engines, a transporter and other equipment that will last several years, and it could be partially recouped down the road if it’s sold or leased to other teams.

Still, the realtor said, “It’s a whole new world.”

The team has just taken delivery of its cars, which are built by the French company Ligier Automotive at a plant in North Carolina. 

After a planned initial shakedown at Mission Raceway, the entire team will head to Willow Springs International Raceway, north of Los Angeles, for two to three days of extensive testing in advance of the first race weekend, April 9 to 11 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.

Egner, who will be graduating from two seasons at the F2000 level, said there will be a definite learning curve to the 1,200-lb. F3 car that is powered by a 303 HP Honda engine — almost double the 160 HP he is used to.

Dobbie, who cut his teeth at the F1600 and F2000 levels, said while the G-forces and speed of the more powerful car — which looks like a slimmed-down version of a Formula 1 racer, complete with the carbon-fibre halo that protects the driver’s cockpit — will take some getting used to. 

“The pedals are in the same spot,” he said.

For his part, Colpitts said he’s eager to take in the whole pit lane experience for the first time as an owner, even though every broken part or additional required tool means money out of his pocket.

“I have to learn the sport now and how we can go in and disrupt what’s happening.”

That disruption, Ewen Dobbie said, will be based on fuelling the dreams of young Canadian drivers, whom he feels have fallen through the cracks created by the huge financial demands required at the F1 or F2 levels in Europe and the diminishment of North American open-wheel series like Indy and Indy Lights.

He said owning a team outright makes those opportunities more likely than relying on drivers to use sponsorship money they’ve hustled to buy rides in established teams. 

Instead, Dobbie said, he and Colpitts will work to provide the financial backing to support the racers by offering sponsors unique experiences in exchange for their commitment.

“We want to do more than just put stickers on the car,” Colpitts said.

While racing is a big-money sport at any level, he said, the cost of making racing dreams come true will be worth it.

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