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Canadian karter on the hunt for sponsors

Praga, the karting constructor that won the KZ1 World Cup with Bas Lammers got in touch with the Rileys in 2012: "Austin had an article written about him in the Toronto Star newspaper in September," Jason said. "Marco Dileo of Goodwood Kartways and IPK North America were at the Praga factory in October to see the unveiling of the OK1 brand and discuss Praga's business in North America. Marco had dinner one night with Krystle Carrara of Praga and somehow Austin's story came up. Marco then put her in touch with me and the rest is history."

For 2013, Austin will race in Junior Rotax. He demonstrated promise in the class at the end of 2012: "For the last race of this season I let him race in both Mini and JR," Jason said. "The only problem was they were back to back. So as soon as he came off the scales he had to run down the grid to get in the JR. He ended up winning in Mini and finished a respectable sixth out of 12 in JR."

The success at the track has come at a great financial cost. Jason said: "I can't tell you how much our family has sacrificed in the last few years to keep Austin racing. In 2009 halfway through the race season my wife was laid off from work and my work week was shortened down to four days. We couldn't afford to race but we also couldn't stop. When you see your son struggle for acceptance and happiness his whole life and all of a sudden he finds something that changes that, how can you take that away?

My wife and I decided to cash in our retirement savings so that Austin could continue racing. This past year we made the decision to sell my prized Camaro so Austin could finish off this year. My daughter who is one of Austin's biggest supporters will be going to college or university in the next couple of years and as it stands right now I don't know how I can fund Austin's racing and Courtney's schooling at the same time. We are hoping at some point in the not too distant future we are able to find a sponsor for Austin to help him continue."

The team hope to organise a charity race at Goodwood Kartways this summer with the proceeds going to the charity Autism Speaks Canada. The Rileys have been getting attention from all over the world from other parents as Jason pointed out:

"I believe Austin is changing a lot of minds about autism. I can't tell you how many emails and facebook messages I have received since this all started. One in particular stands out from a gentleman who has two children who have both been diagnosed with autism. 'Hi, just wanted to send an email after watching Austin's video done by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) I am a parent with two children with autism and after seeing Austin's video it really changed my outlook on life. Just wanted to thank you Austin by showing me that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Thank you once again and good luck with the races.'"

The team's website is:

by Simon Stiel

Tagged as: Canada , Autism , Praga , Rotax Mini Max

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