He started off driving a tractor on his parents’ Manitoba farm, but David Richert is set to tear up the track in Spain, France and Portugal this year as a professional race car driver.
Richert told 680 CJOB’s Sports Show that he recently signed with the Inter Europol Competition team for the 2020 season, and said he’s proud of the journey that took him from farm life to the racetrack.
“I grew up loving hockey like most other Canadian boys do,” he said. “Then one day I turned on the television and I saw this Formula One car race on TV and that sort of inflamed the passion.”
A trip to Indianapolis to see a race in person sealed the deal.
“I remember being on the upper deck, looking down at the cars screaming by, and I just thought it would be way more fun to be down there driving than watching.”
Richert said he was working on the farm, gathering 9,000 chicken eggs every day, when he decided to take the plunge into motorsports — despite having zero prior experience and starting at a much later age than most racers.
“Everyone said, ‘a kid from a farm in Manitoba, you’re never gonna get the chance to do that’, and I thought, well, let’s just go out and give it a shot.”
Richert’s first race experience, at age 20, was driving a go-kart in Gimli, and from that inauspicious start, he rose through the ranks incredibly quickly, eventually advancing to the highest levels of European racing.
“I realized because I was older, I had to move fast. I did the go-karting fairly quickly, and within a year-and-a-half later, I found myself driving a Formula car doing 250 m.p.h. It was quite a big step to make quickly, but I knew I had to do it that way.”
It wasn’t long, however, until he hit a serious roadblock. An early attempt at going pro resulted in a company willing to sign him but asking him to invest gargantuan sums of money before they would do so.
“Racing is a business,” he said. “It’s not like hockey or football or baseball where, yes, there’s money and politics and everything … but at least if you have talent, you’ll get a shot to succeed.
“In auto racing, you can be the fastest race car driver in the world, but if you don’t have the financial backing to go up through the levels, you’ll go absolutely nowhere.”
Richert said he was lucky to find support from automaker Volkswagen, which gave him the financial leg up to dive into professional racing.
That led to an opportunity to race through the streets of Monte Carlo at the Formula One Grand Prix Weekend three years ago, and eventually to his current gig with Inter Europol Competition.
Throughout all of his success, Richert said he owes a debt of gratitude to the local supporters who helped him achieve his racing dreams.
“(It’s) just a huge testament to all of the people in Winnipeg and Manitoba and throughout this community that really got behind what we were doing and gave me that opportunity to succeed.”