Looking to go above and beyond for the United States Karting Gran Prix (USKGP), partners of the inaugural event are receiving a little extra promotion through our Partner Profile feature. First on the schedule has been long time TaG supporter Italian Motors and Claudio Valiante.
Claudio was born in a small town in the south of Italy. Claudio Valiante’s father was a carpenter, and his mother was the owner of a local bakery. He was the sixth of seven children and definitely the black sheep of the family. He was always up to something, a risk taker, spontaneous and fun. Growing up, and after spending two years in the Navy, Claudio, at the ripe age of 19 hopped on to a ship bound for Canada with his dream to make enough money to purchase his own Alfa Romeo.
Upon arriving in North America, Claudio lived with his older sister and her husband and soon began working in a factory manufacturing chairs. He worked hard and eventually landed a job in an auto repair business. At this time, he met Beverley who was working at a bank close by. He would go to the bank every day to withdraw $5 just as an excuse to see her until he got enough nerve to ask her out on a date. Marrying two years later, Claudio and Beverley spent the first five years of their marriage traveling, attending Formula 1 races and working in an effort to establish a base for the soon to come family. In 1977, the birth of their firstborn, Claudia, and their opening of their first automotive repair shop occurred. Two years later, their son Michael was born.
By 1980, Claudio and Beverley purchased a shop in Vancouver and were worked day-and-night repairing any European car they could get their hands on. It was around that time Claudio purchased his first vintage car and started racing at the local racetrack in Westwood. He soon discovered a kart track at the car track and purchased a kart for his three-year-old son Michael.
That first kart was a Ferrari Formula 1 replica and special blocks were glued to Michael’s shoes so he could reach the pedals. When Michael turned seven, they purchased their first race kart and started racing competitively. Hooked immediately, Michael’s goal was motorsports while Claudia was fully focused on dance. The father-son duo started traveling to the United States and competing in the Region 6 Gold Cups and IKF Grand Nationals. Michael’s natural abilities where obvious from the beginning as they started making podium and setting new track records.
Claudio’s entrepreneurial spirit propelled him into importing his own Italian kart brand, Tibikart, which he began to sell locally to club members. By the late 90s, the Italian Motors name was well known throughout North America as a leading kart team. With Michael`s on track experience and kart finesse and Claudio`s innovation, the two developed their own chassis brand called Italkart. It was around this time that Claudia entered the karting world and became Michael’s teammate as they continued to travel the United States racing in the ELF Constructors championship, IKF Grand Nationals and Region 6 Gold Cup.
As Michael’s racing career took off and he moved from karts to race cars and Claudio’s business continued to grow and flourish. Michael went on to compete in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, Champ Car Atlantic Series as well as the highest level of motorsports in North America making starts in the NASCAR Busch Series, Champ Car World Series but making a career the IMSA Sports Car Championship earning two championship podium results and a podium finish in the world famous 24 Hours of Daytona.
While Michael was making a career in motorsports, Claudio’s innovation and eye for mechanical excellence began to produce new product lines. With the already establish ItalKart brand, Claudio built one of the first the 125cc engines and several tools and parts that are used on many karts today.
Claudio’s big dream of building a track came to fruition in 2010 and he moved his operations from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada to Sumas, Washington. Today, Italian Motors is home to Sumas International Motorsport Academy.
Fast forward to today, Italian Motors USA is one of the largest karting supply shops and has one of the most successful race teams in North America. Its many successes at the track have drawn drivers from across the continent as they seek out IM’s coaching and mechanical services. With multiple wins already in the 2021 season, Italian Motors is taking advantage the wealth of experience and success to continue their growth in the North American karting community. Now, located in a 20,000 square foot facility in Sumas, Washington, Italian Motors USA looks forward to the future with new products, a full-time karting facility, training programs, and supporting growth throughout the karting industry.
While the Italian Motors race team begins to flourish, a new project is on tap for the horizon as track expansion is planned. Click HERE for more information. For continued information on Italian Motors, please visit www.ItalianMotors.com.
More announcements are coming soon! Visit www.USKartingGrandPrix.com for news, information, class structure, rules, hotel information and more.
Photos: Italian Motors