Racing is in the Demaras family’s blood. From an early age, Daniel Demaras, a third-year political science student at U of T, was introduced to racing by his father, Chris. Demaras saw the unique excitement motorsport brought as he watched Formula 1 as a kid. 

“There’s nothing really like it in other sports,” he explained in an interview with The Varsity

The early days

The human aspect of motorsport, combined with its machinery, creates exciting battles on TV, but it was the personal challenge — trying to improve yourself by continually getting faster — that drew Demaras in. It wasn’t long before he found himself racing around the Nascar SpeedPark in Vaughan at age five. K1 Speed and Polson Pier in Toronto were two other early stomping grounds for Demaras and his family. 

The safe environment they provided allowed Demaras to get a taste of what driving by himself felt like. Although he wasn’t going as fast as the racers he watched at the Honda Indy Toronto and the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it didn’t matter. “[Even] if you go 10 kilometres an hour, you feel like you’re Fernando Alonso,” Demaras said. 

Demaras has been go-karting at a competitive level since a young age. AHMAD KHAN/THE VARSITY

Overcoming adversity

When Demaras was 13, he began competing in the Canadian Rookie Karting Championship, where he won two championships. Next up was the TRAK Championship, a competitive racing series at the club level in Southern Ontario. 

Yet, starting in TRAK in 2017, Demaras encountered his first roadblocks. He struggled for the next three years. Karting is incredibly chaotic: as Demaras explained, “there [are] 1,000 things that can go wrong,” with crashes being commonplace. Frustration can also set in easily when competing alongside drivers with much more experience, some of whom even began racing as far back as 2003 — the year Demaras was born. 

But struggles and adversaries are a pivotal part of any story. Look no further than the appropriately named Will Power, one of Demaras’ heroes. 

Before winning the 2014 IndyCar Series and the 2018 Indianapolis 500, Power encountered several struggles. Prior to 2014, Power found himself in close fights for the championship in different seasons but lost out each time, often due to crashes that brought his seasons to an end. Some of these even happened in the final races of the season. “It broke my heart every time,” Demaras reminisced.

However, it was overcoming that very struggle that made him Demaras’ hero. Taking inspiration from Power, Demaras adopted his number, 12, and with it Power’ unyielding attitude. 

Persistence was key for Demaras, and his commitment paid off in 2020: he broke through and won his first race in TRAK. He didn’t stop there: he won the championship that year and again in 2021. Demaras also competed in the K1 World Championships in California, finishing third in 2019.

Into Formula 1200

After winning his second TRAK championship, Demaras found himself test-driving a Formula 1200 car at the end of 2021. In 2022, he began racing in Formula 1200, a transition that brought on a whole new set of challenges. 

The series focused on close-quarter racing, leaving even less of a margin of error than before. Additionally, Demaras is now competing in more races than ever. A weekend in Formula 1200 consists of practice sessions, qualifying, and three races: one on Saturday, with two more happening on Sunday. 

There is also a step up in competition. One of Demaras’ fellow competitors is Phil Wang, who has won each Canadian season between 2015 and 2022. His wealth of experience means he often can predict what other drivers will do. “If you’re moving to the left to pass him, he already knows you’re going to do that,” Demaras explained.


Demaras began racing in Formula 1200 in 2022. COURTESY OF ALEX SMALLEY/GOFAST PHOTOGRAPHY

Other newer competitors bring a level of aggression with them that can be equally challenging to deal with. The accumulation of these various challenges in Formula 1200 requires drivers like Demaras to be focused at all times, as the slightest mistake can mean the end of your day.

Despite finding himself on a few podiums and finishing third overall in his first year, frustration set in once again as his first win evaded him. Yet, he didn’t have to wait long to overcome it, as he earned his first Formula 1200 win in 2023. Demaras won three more times that season, leading to him being crowned the 2023 Canadian Formula 1200 Champion. 

Racing is difficult to advance further into due to the lack of a ladder system found in other sports, such as hockey. Finances are another issue. For example, Formula Three requires hundreds of thousands of dollars to race. For Demaras, continuing to compete any way he can is his focus. “If that’s Formula 1200, then I’m happy to be there,” Demaras said. 

Rally against hunger 

As Demaras waits for the next season of Formula 1200 to begin in May, the Demaras family is giving back for the holiday season. The Rally Against Hunger, which they held on December 3, consisted of a charity go-kart race — in which some audience members participated — and a food drive.

Demaras and his family gave back to their local community this holiday season. AHMAD KHAN/THE VARSITY

“It’s disheartening to see because we’re a world-class city, but we’ve got a lot of people who can’t afford to feed themselves,” Demaras said. 

Demaras Racing was able to help the community at the event — which they organized jointly with Race Lab and Can-Jam Motorsports — gathering 1,220 pounds in food donations. 

Editor’s note (January 14): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Power lost several IndyCar championships in 2014. In fact, it should state that Power lost several championships prior to 2014, when he won.