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'Ground zero': St. Joseph's student chasing down Formula 1 dream

'I want to be want to be the first Barrie driver to go into the Formula 1 and the first ever Peruvian to be racing in Formula 1,' says Dontae Quispe
Dontae Quispe makes the 'W' sign after winning a race at Mosport.

Dontae Quispe is racing toward success.

With wins at the provincial level, the Barrie kart-racer is aiming for the big one — Formula 1 — which is considered to be the highest class of international racing for single-seat race cars.

“I want to be want to be the first Barrie driver to go into the Formula 1 and the first ever Peruvian to be racing in Formula 1,” Quispe says of his ultimate goal.

First, he’s hoping to cap this season, which ends in November, with a championship title. So far, his stats include Mosport Arrive and Drive Racing League (MADRL) five-time race winner, six podium finishes, and one Grand Slam. He’s also attracted the attention of podcasters on both sides of the Canadian border.

The 16-year-old St. Joseph's Catholic High School was born in Barrie, the middle child of six siblings. He has lived here all of his life. The Grade 11 student recently transferred to the Cundles Road East school to acquire the credits needed to graduate. Mixed among his racing talents, he also has an interest in other sports.

“I’m not a one-trick horse,” he tells BarrieToday. “I’m very mechanically inclined and love working with cars. I’d currently doing a co-op with an automotive shop and am very excited about that.”

An interest in cars, which comes from his father, and racing, from his grandfather, runs in his family. Quispe has a photo of himself around the time he was in kindergarten playing with a Formula 1 model car. By age 10, he was watching races on YouTube.

“I always loved cars, but wasn’t into racing,” he recalls. “But what really kicked it was racing games online against other people — endurance races, the online version. I was into that scene for a bit and then thought, 'why not try it in real life?' and it turns out I have a knack for it.”

Along the way, he discovered a community of like-minded drivers who want to win, but are humble about it, too. And, they have each other’s backs, he says, and are all building experience as they go.

After seeing an online ad for 1600-Series drivers, an Ontario racing series, he received some good advice: Acquire training and experience at Mosport. The karting centre in Bowmanville offers all of that well as racing opportunities on a 1.5-kilometre track.

For his first season, which was last year, Quispe participated in the centre’s MADRL Series and achieved two wins, and two podium placements, and finished fifth in the championship year. He says it was enough to attract 13 offers from Formula 4 leagues in the United States and Europe. Most required him to pay money to participate.

“It’s expensive. I’m working on getting more sponsors, but not many people have their faith in a Canadian driver, especially coming out of Barrie. Who is this guy?” Quispe says. “Right now, I’m at the basic form of racing. Ground zero. It’s unheard of to see what I’m doing, but I’m doing it.”

Beyond racing, Quispe says he's equally passionate about being a good role model for younger kids, helping with humanitarian aid, and promoting equality, which he says is inspired by the drivers he admires. This year, he has a Pride flag on his helmet.

Quispe is working with Formula 4 teams hoping to test in a car and acquire more sponsors to run a full season. He says a test session is good for his racing resume, as it helps to establish drive times and coachability. As there is no similar program in Canada, he has to go to the U.S. for those. 

“If I want to get to Formula 1, I have to climb the rankings to get enough points to super licence — to race in Formula 1. Formula 4 is the basic level,” he says. “It’s a pretty big gamble, but it’s really the only way.”

Final races at Mosport are slated for Oct. 28. A race of champions follows at the beginning of November, and then there's a break over the winter months.

Quispe hopes his 2022 racing season will lead to sponsorship, which he says will go a long way to achieving his goal.

For more information, he can be contacted by email at [email protected].